If Only It Were True
by Marc Levy (translation by Jeremy Leggatt), paranormal (2001)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-0618-4


If Only It Were True is Frenchman Marc Levy's debut novel, called by Glamour the "summer's most romantic read". Ah, France. The yummy Roy Dupuis. The red hot Jean-Hugues Angalde. I want to have Daniel Auteuil for dinner. Pepe le Pew. Okay, maybe not Pepe le Pew. Still, when Frenchmen write romans, Mrs Giggles cannot resist.

Well, after reading this book, I can safely say that Glamour gusher must have a secret addiction habit he or she is keeping hidden from his or her employers.

If Only It Were True tells the story of one Arthur who has just moved into his new San Francisco apartment when he encounters Lauren in his closet. (Lay off the closet jokes, people.) Lauren, however, is technically in coma in a hospital across town. It's her "spirit" that Arthur encounters and soon falls in love with. When he realizes that the authorities are ready to pull the plug on Lauren's life support, he must do all he can to save her.

I have my hankies ready. No need, really. If Only It Were True is written in a style more suited to a fifth year clinical applications textbook. No emotion, no passion, nothing. This is probably the translator Jeremy Leggatt's fault, I don't know. What I do know is that I am unmoved by the writing. There's no elegance, not even a hint of urgency when Lauren is about to die. It's like listening to a disgruntled man reading a chick flick book, not because he wants to share with all the women in the audience this Great Love Story, but because the boss will fire his sorry ass if he doesn't do his job.

Then, the philosophy! Yikes. For the first 50 pages, I actually thought the story will be readable if hackneyed. But the author decides to make Lauren the poster girl for hackneyed philosophies about how we must enjoy our todays and not worry too much about tomorrows because the time in our piggy bank is not replenishable and the bank doesn't hand out annual interests. Or something to that effect.

And I have no idea who Lauren and Arthur is. Lauren is a bit like Dharma on speed, that I know, and Arthur has more chemistry with his friend Paul than Lauren (well, he did meet Lauren in the closet). Their romance is supposed to be Pure and True, but when they start exchanging greeting card philosophies as a form of foreplay, I have this sudden craving for some sweet corn ice cream.

Hmm. I think I will go visit the nearest Memory Lane Card Store, take note of some cards and those awful poetry they always put in those musical $25.99 cards, and cough up a slim book filled with nothing but Hakuna Matata and Dharma & Greg yammering. I'll even make myself watch that awful cavity-inducing It's A Wonderful Life to copy some of the more melodramatic speeches wholesale. Then I'll publish it under a male pseudonym and submit my husband's photo for the hardcover jacket... wait, I'll need to change his face first so that he will look as handsome as Nicholas Sparks sitting on some rocks. How's that for seizing the day and making money in my piggy bank, Mr Levy?

What? That's not what you mean about time in piggy banks and all? Could've fooled me.

Rating: 46


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