First, let it be said that I started reading the short story anthology American Girls About Town with a bit of a bias. The book contains stories from seventeen American women writers, including one of my favorites, Jennifer Weiner. A big fan of Weiner’s novels Good in Bed and In Her Shoes, I think that anything she’s involved with is just delightful and charming. So it’s no surprise that my favorite of the short stories is Weiner’s “The Truth About Nigel,” about a sweet-natured American girl named Sarah, who works at a bank in London and falls for a mysterious new co-worker named Nigel. Like all of Weiner’s work, it’s smart, funny, poignant and surprising.
That said, many of the other stories are pretty good, too. Along with Weiner, the collection’s big names include “The Devil Wears Prada” scribe Lauren Weisberger and author Adriana Trigiani. Trigiani’s “My Great Brit Book Tour” is a little too wacky and sitcom-esque, but it’s light and charming in its depiction of a harried American mom whose promotion of her book in the U.K. hits one misstep after another. Much stronger is Weisberger’s “The Bamboo Confessions,” about a woman who takes a group tour to Vietnam, hoping to gain perspective on her troubled love life. The story is touching as it shows how a single vacation can be a turning point in a person’s life.
The other shorts include hits (Cindy Chupack’s heart-breaking “Moving Day,” about a woman whose husband comes out after six months of marriage; Judi Hendricks’s equally moving “Andromeda on the Street of Ducklings,” about a woman who travels to Paris to mourn her dead fiancé) and misses (Lauren Henderson’s obnoxious “Yoga Babe”). But the stories on average are fair to good, which makes the collection worth a read – and not just for Weiner.