May 30, 2013

Book Review: Skinnydipping by Bethenny Frankel

I can't believe I have not read a book since last summer! School is great and everything, but it bothers me that it gets in the way of me doing the things I enjoy, particularly pleasure reading. But I finally got around to reading my first book of the year, and I couldn't be happier. Hopefully over the summer I'll be able to get some more reading done, which means more book reviews for y'all.


As I mentioned a long time ago in this post, Bethenny Frankel is a standout woman, and I heavily admire and look up to her. So when I saw that she published a fiction novel I immediately jumped on it.  My only regret is that I didn't read it sooner because I love Bethenny. As for the story, it's about wannabe actress and food lover Faith Brightstone. She moves out to LA after college to pursue her on-screen dreams, but after months of rejections and living the lifestyle of the rich and famous she heads back to New York. After struggling to make her bakery a well-known and respected business, Faith finally gets her big break. She is asked to participate on a new reality show called "Domestic Goddess." (Think top chef but all things housewife.) While dodging curveball after curveball, Faith must find a way to rise to the top of the pack so she can make a name for herself and save her failing business, but is it really what she wants when it's all said and done?

I have mixed emotions about this book. Part of me loved it, but the other part of me knows a large reason that I loved the story is simply because it's written by Bethenny. For starters, I think the idea of the story is great. Getting a look at the reality show life (even in fiction) is interesting for me. And if you know anything about Bethenny, you know she was part of the Real Housewives of New York, and she got her own spin off after leaving the show. And, from watching her shows, you learn a lot about her personal life. Many elements of the story were pulled from Bethenny's real life, and that experience makes the story believable. I also love Bethenny's humor, and it comes out in full force in Skinnydipping.

However, I do have some issues with the story, and I can't ignore it no matter how much I love the author. (Where would my credibility be if I did that?!) The story is written in two parts: part one being Faith's LA life and part two being her New York life, particularly being on the show. There is a five year gap between those parts, and the only references to LA during part two have to do with certain people making re-appearances in Faith's life and the mention of a little indie film Faith made just before moving back to the Big Apple. I just don't see a point in, what I like to call, the "LA story" taking up half of the book. My main interest was in the reality show at the end. I feel like the LA story could have been covered briefly in three or four chapters then have the New York story take up the majority of the book. I also thought the writing could have been better, but I don't want to harp on that because Bethenny is mainly an entrepreneur and businesswoman, so I'll give her break.

Overall, I enjoyed the story. I thought it was light, fun, and easy. It's a great beachy summer read. I read it in four days if that tells you anything. The chapters add to that; most of them were between six and ten pages, which I think is the perfect length for a chapter. And, like I've said a million times, I love Bethenny, so reading her first fiction novel was a highlight in itself for me. But I can't say the book is a 10 out of 10. After taking fiction writing classes this past school year I've become much more aware of the elements of story writing, and I just don't think the set up and execution were the story's strong points. However, if you know Bethenny and are a fan of her and what she does, I think you'd really enjoy the book. You really see her personality throughout the story, and to me, I saw Skinnydipping as a small way for Bethenny to get her story out there. But if you don't know her from Adam's apple, then this book might not be your favorite. 

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