Calendar Girl
Naomi Neale
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Calendar Girl
Naomi Neale
Making It
322 pages
January 2005
rated 3 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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What can one do with a liberal arts degree from an Ivy League university? Not much, if you ask Nan Cloutier. Resigned to working numerous temp jobs as a "Cheer Facilitator" with Seasonal Staffers Inc., Nan desperately wants more from life but doesn't know how to get it. Her job as a "Who" in the Mercer-Iverson Department Store's Grinch exhibit is almost the last straw. Through a zany turn of events, Nan ends up causing Old Mr. Andrew Iverson to break his arm. Feeling quite guilty, she spends time reading to him in the afternoons.

Mr. Iverson asks Nan to babysit his grandson Colm, and one misunderstanding breeds another. Nan thinks he's asking her to watch a child. The old man actually has a set-up in mind for Nan and Colm, but, due to the confusion, Colm thinks Nan is a call girl. Unlucky with work, not much better with love, what's a girl to do? With Nan's hilarious group of friends and even stranger and funnier family members, Nan just might discover meaning in her life after all.

Calendar Girl is a sweet, humor-filled story. Naomi Neale deftly combines chick lit with laugh-out-loud contemporary romance to appeal to a wide variety of readers. Most will be able to relate to Nan and her struggles with finding a job and finding love. Her antics will inspire you to say "Glad it's her and not me!" From dressing up in a giant candy box for Valentine's Day to living over a bakery in an apartment filled with outdated machinery, Nan's life is a comedy of errors. Yet we get a sense of transition as Nan attempts to figure out what's holding her back from making a commitment to a career and to a boyfriend.

The light-hearted tone and the outstanding supporting characters are huge positives for Calendar Girl. The development of the love story is a weakness. The progression from Nan and Colm's initial meeting to their eventual relationship is based on very few meetings, none of which go very well. More time could have been spent on the romance angle to make it more believable. Jumping from one funny encounter to another creates a disjointed flow. Some of the secondary characters have wonderful storylines--Nan's frumpy dad who turns metrosexual, for example; others begin well and then fizzle, like Nan's friend Emmett and his British fiancee, Isobel.

If you enjoy romance sprinkled with chuckles, Calendar Girl is a delightful way to spend your reading time. Overlook its shortcomings and appreciate its lively banter and entertaining storyline.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at Melissa Parcel, 2005

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