Author Andrea Semple’s second novel, The Makeup Girl, is a great follow up to her debut novel, The Ex-Factor. Faith Wishart is a single young woman who lives in a dreary flat in Leeds. She has no love prospects on the horizon and works a low-paying job as a “makeup girl” at a local department store, Keats. While Faith is not depressed about her life, she knows that she could be doing better. It is a matter of being motivated and being more of a go-getter. Plus, it would have helped if she had gotten higher marks in school and had some job connections.
Faith is close to her mother, who was understandably emotionally distraught when Faith’s father dropped dead several years ago of a heart attack. Faith’s mother is a bit on the needy side; one of her most significant desires is to know that her three children are doing well in life. Faith’s brother has a successful career and makes great money. Faith’s sister, Hope, is a different story. She took off for Australia shortly after their father’s death and has been incommunicado ever since. That leaves Faith as her mother’s sole daughter in a sense, and she doesn’t want to let her mother down. She accomplishes this goal by lying to her mother about her life, and the lies keep building on each other as time goes on.
Faith tells her mother that she made top marks at the university she attended and landed a top-notch job with a high salary at one of the best PR firms. Faith has enriched this fantasy life to include a fictitious boyfriend named Adam, a good-looking, rich and successful lawyer. Unfortunately, Faith has dug herself into a hole when she really just wanted to make her mother proud. She must continually embellish her fantasy life during her mother’s frequent telephone calls in order to continue the charade.
Things become incredibly complicated with a new development concerning Faith’s sister. Apparently, Hope has created a new craze in workout videos, having developed “Yogasmic,” a yoga video workout series designed to improve your sex life. Further, Hope is engaged and coming home to England to get married. This creates a real quandary for Faith, who is expected to bring the elusive “Adam” to the wedding to meet the family. Now Faith has two months to make her fairytale life real.
Faith joins a gym with the hopes that she will meet a suitable man there. She manages to meet a guy at the gym whose name actually is Adam. He’s terribly handsome, they start dating, and Faith is quite hopeful – until it becomes clear that he is a sex maniac, not a real boyfriend, and the relationship ends shortly after its inception. Hanging around in the background is Faith’s neighbor downstairs, Frank. It becomes clear early on that Frank will play some sort of significant role, but I will leave the details for the reader to discover.
Even though the plot sounds a bit silly, I almost immediately settled into it. Faith is a likeable character despite all the willful mistakes she has made. Frank is an interesting character who evolves as the story progresses. There are a few notable secondary characters, including a friend of Faith’s who is housebound because she is stricken with panic attacks. However, the standout feature in this book is the humor: it is absolutely laugh-out-loud funny. I was laughing several times throughout this book, and I am finicky when it comes to humor. This is a fun read that I highly recommend to fans of chick lit and those looking for a light, contemporary read.