Blushing Pink
by Jill Winters, contemporary (2003)
Onyx, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-41090-4


On the bright side, things are more manic in this book as opposed to the author's somnambulic debut Plum Girl. On the down side, this is only a compliment in a "the daughter possessed by evil spirits is a little more manic today than yesterday" sort of good. There is no plot in this book, just a series of humorless anecdotes of a stupid Chick-lit wannabe heroine and her Chick-lit wannabe stereotypical friends and marriage-mad mothers and horny old ladies. Unless the plot is Jill Winters making lots of money writing her books, but that's neither here nor there, is it?

This story revolves around Reese Brock and whatever the author can come up with to fill that particular chapter. Reese's sisters are all married or are about to be, so Reese's mother acts like a psychotic loon scheming to get Reese married. Reese seems to be devoid of any proactive initiatives. She's doing a PhD program she hates, she works at a bookstore with lousy colleagues, her life sucks - not that she does anything but to whine - her mother wants her to matchmake an 80-something old woman with an eligible man, and... oh yeah, Reese falls in love with Brian Doren. When the author remembers Brian, that is.

Frankly, this story is a mess. This book follows the Chick Lit formula closely, but it makes several big blunders. It's just not funny. There is no intelligent wit, no satirical elements about dating and relationship, nothing that makes the British counterparts a success in America. This story relies on clumsy gimmicks like overuse of exclamation marks, italics, and periods in conversations to replace canned laughter tracks. In this case, the author's idea of comedy is to stretch miscommunication issues over as long as she could by having her characters do insane roundabout and deliberately confusing methods of communcation. If you find people saying things in unfunny and vague ways open to a million miscommunication possibilities and the consequences that result funny, this book will fare better with you. Me, I'm just stoned, and that's "stoned" in a bad way.

Books like Bridget Jones's Diary may have questionable heroines, but there's no denying that the comedy is often witty and cynical. In Blushing Pink, Jill Winters cluelessly sells stupidity as a commodity, apparently unaware that her book comes off like a reject sitcom script instead of some sophisticated urban romantic comedy. A truly bizarre book that seems unable to make up its mind whether to concentrate on slapstick comedy or witty humor, the book tries both, fails miserably at both, and frankly, Blushing Pink is dull and dry. I only keep turning the pages just to see how increasingly bizarre and unfunny the characters' actions, dialogues, and motivations will get. Let's just say the bottom of the barrel - well, this book smashes through the bottom of the barrel and digs into the ground under the barrel. If I do laugh, it's because the whole enthusiastic but miserably unfunny comedy routine becomes unintentionally hilarious. I laugh a few times, but it's like laughing at really bad performances staged by lil' kids - I feel so guilty afterwards. Oh well.

With the inflood of Downtown, Red Dress Ink, the Avon Chick-lit line whose name I'm not sure of, and who knows what other lines are out there, Jill Winters really need to offer a reason why readers should care about her books. As far as I'm concerned, she's yet to come up with one halfway decent reason. "Laugh at my books, they're a train wreck" just doesn't cut it, I'm afraid.

Rating: 52

PS: More unintentional comedy courtesy of Amazon.com: at the time of writing, when you click on this book's page, hopefully to buy the book, Amazon also recommends you to get treatment for excessive sweating, blushing, and Raynaud's disease plus a crash course on overcoming excessive shyness. I don't know what to say, really.


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