Review: Pretty in Plaid by Jen Lancaster

plaid1Title: Pretty in Plaid: A Life, a Witch, and a Wardrobe, or the Wonder Years Before the Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smart-Ass Phase

Author: Jen Lancaster

Genre: Nonfiction Memoir/Essay; 384 pages

Publication Date:  May 5, 2009

Publisher: National American Library (NAL)

Rating: 4 Bookmarks

If you’re anything like me, you have a Santa Claus-sized ledger in which you record book titles that other bloggers recommend.  If this is the case, please add Jen Lancaster’s Pretty in Plaid to the top of the ‘Nice’ list. 

Lancaster has been likened to “David Sedaris with pearls and a supercute handbag”, and her latest memoir weaves a hilarious retrospective highlighting fashion highs and lows over the last four decades.  Entire essays are devoted to size-5 Jordache jeans, odious Brownie uniforms, and the edgier Girl Scout uniforms.  (I donned both and can attest to the faux pas that was the Brownie Beanie.)

Lancaster takes the mundane and spins it into a giant, literary confection of equal parts humor, hubris, and habiliment.  This book should come with a Surgeon General’s Warning printed on it–Reading this book should be done only in private and may induce:

  • laughing until your mascara runs down your face in twin, black rivers
  • laughing until you snort (Swine flu be damned!)
  • laughing yourself into a wheezy, cartoonish fit
  • laughing yourself into hyperventilation (as your husband frantically dials 9-1-1 for help)

Maybe you’re in need of a good laugh or you’ve been meaning to pick up some nonfiction for a reading challenge–either way, here’s the perfect vehicle!

Lest you think I’m being paid to write such a glowing review, I will say that the book starts off with a few missives I wasn’t barking mad about. Additionally, the footnotes may get a bit tedious for some readers–having to glance down two or three times on one page–but beyond those minor quibbles, this book has already become one of my favorites.

You can catch Jen on her nation-wide book tour, kicking off tomorrow.  She’ll be in New York on Thursday and I hope to be there (with pearls on).  Thanks to Kate and Melissa for the galley!

15 Comments

  • At 2009.05.05 01:11, Positively Present said:

    Sounds like a great read! I’m definitely going to add it to my To Read list. Thanks! 🙂

    • At 2009.05.05 04:59, Melissa @ Melissa's Bookshelf said:

      This sounds like it could be a fun read. But every time I see the cover it bugs me because those socks are not plaid, they’re argyle!!

      • At 2009.05.05 06:38, Molly said:

        I am always looking for a book that will make me laugh out loud. I will definitely add this to my Santa Claus-sized ledger of TBR books!

        • At 2009.05.05 07:36, vivienne said:

          Already on my list, but moving up it as I write.

          • At 2009.05.05 07:51, Bookish Patty said:

            First, thank you for the Megan McCafferty series giveaway. I never win anything! This book sounds like it could really make me laugh. I don’t read very much non-fiction but I’m starting today. Off to Amazom to order it. Thank you again!!
            Patty

            • At 2009.05.05 07:53, kay said:

              This sounds like fun – great review! I’ll obey and put it at the top of my “To read” list! 😛 It definitely needs more fun books, I’ve been on a thrillers and paranormal books buying spree lately.

              • At 2009.05.05 09:53, Becky Workman said:

                Great review! I can’t wait to get around to this one!

                • At 2009.05.05 11:35, Flannelbabe said:

                  Jen Lancaster has such an easy sense of humour, and her books are always of the laugh-out-loud-and-embarrass-yourself-on-your-commute types. She has caused many snorts and guffaws in my group of friends, and we find ourselves quoting the Jen-isms regularly!

                  Bright Lights, Big Ass was definitely my favourite, and the first Jen-ography that I read. I’m looking forward Pretty in Plaid, despite my dislike for the 80’s!!! She’s that good 😉

                  • At 2009.05.05 14:41, emilylistfield said:

                    Omigod Jen Lancaster’s Bitch is the New Black was the best book I read in 2007. HILARIOUS. Love that she’s spotlighted here.

                    • At 2009.05.06 09:55, Jenners said:

                      I had never heard of Jen Lancaster until I started book blogging and I just got “Bitter Is the New Black.” I think she will be good match for me and I’m sure I’ll be picking this one up too! : )

                      • At 2009.05.06 14:04, Citizen Reader said:

                        Oh, gosh, I wonder if I should give Lancaster another try. For some reason her “New Black” book annoyed the crap out of me, but maybe I was just in the wrong mood when I read it.

                        Great review!

                        • At 2009.05.06 17:06, institutrice said:

                          The footnotes are my favorite part! They remind me of the missives I wrote in college (letters to my poor unsuspecting friends and family) where I would launch into lengthy asides to explain things. More likely they were just tangents of my random mind, and on more than on occassion a whole page would end up inside ( ) .

                          • At 2009.05.07 00:21, S. Krishna said:

                            I love Jen Lancaster and can’t wait to read this one.

                            • At 2009.05.07 22:17, Rebecca said:

                              I have this one on my TBR list, as is Bitter is the New Black. I look forward to getting them and devouring them!

                              • At 2009.06.01 19:29, pannonica said:

                                I agree. A fun, whirlwindy read. Jen Lancaster isn’t bitter so much as acerbic, which is A-OK with me. Especially since she’s funny as heck.

                                My biggest criticism is that the sartorial theme is a little wispy, disappears almost entirely for the middle of the book but is reasserted, rather clumsily, towards the end. Lancaster and her editor lost focus and crammed for the final. It might have been better to have abandoned the clothing conceit and draped some other motif over the proceedings.

                                Also? Melissa, not only are the argyle socks on the cover, but the pattern is a design element for the chapter headings. From the body of the text, Ms. Lancaster definitely knows the difference between argyle and plaid and has worn her share of both. Blame that one on the book designer and JL probably not having enough clout (yet) to nix it.

                                (Required)
                                (Required, will not be published)

                                CommentLuv badge