Couch World
Cathy Yardley
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Couch World
Cathy Yardley
Red Dress Ink
336 pages
January 2005
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Twenty-nine-year-old “PJ” is a DJ on the San Francisco club scene. She is a “punter,” which means she subs for other DJs. After working in computers for endless hours and suffering through a failed marriage and subsequent divorce, PJ essentially made over her life and became a DJ, which is her true passion. She is talented, too, and she is able to make a living as a punter at various clubs in San Francisco. PJ is friends with a bouncer named “Sticky” who watches out for PJ, and he always has her best interests in mind.

PJ does not have a typical living arrangement. Instead of having an apartment or a house, PJ chooses to “hop” from couch to couch of various friends and acquaintances whom she has met in the club scene. Sticky regularly hooks PJ up by finding a couch for her to crash on for the night. Naturally, PJ travels light; her clothing, laptop and IPod all fit in her duffle bag, and she does laundry twice a week at a Laundromat. PJ is careful to not impose too long by overstaying her welcome on someone’s couch.

While PJ’s arrangement is far from normal, she is content with her life. She is not getting rich on the $75 a night she is making at the clubs, but she loves being a DJ and she is independent although she’s a bit fragile. When Jonathan Hadley, a DJ-turned-manager, approaches PJ after hearing her play one night at a club – PJ’s life drastically changes. Jonathan wants to represent PJ and help her “make it big” as a DJ. Jonathan is wealthy and well-connected in the club scene, and he thinks PJ is extremely talented. He wants to pave the road to her stardom and success. PJ is wary but cautiously agrees to have Jonathan become her manager.

So things are looking up for PJ, but she has two people come into her life who complicate things. Leslie, the girlfriend of one of Sticky’s friends, works for a San Francisco newspaper that covers the club scene. Leslie desperately wants to advance in her career and become a full-fledged reporter – and she’s out to prove herself by writing an article about “DJ PJ” and how she couch-hops on her way to fame. Leslie and PJ work out an arrangement where PJ can crash on Leslie’s couch and, in turn, Leslie gets the “scoop” on PJ’s life as an up-and-coming DJ for her article. Secondly, there is Samantha – a beautiful but insecure nineteen-year-old college student and model. Samantha is eager to get her claws into Jonathan because he is rich and well-connected with various designers. Samantha is attracted to Jonathan (no matter that he is forty years old) and she believes that she can seduce Jonathan and simultaneously get a “leg up” in the modeling world due to his connections.

However, Samantha quickly becomes frustrated when it seems that Jonathan is enthralled with scruffy PJ and not her. In order to woo Jonathan, Samantha agrees to become PJ’s “stylist” and help her get a look that will compliment PJ’s forthcoming stardom. Unfortunately, neither Leslie and Samantha nor have PJ’s best interests in mind, and as both woman get to know PJ, they take advantage of her and unbury some skeletons in PJ’s closet from her rocky “pre-DJ” past.

Couch World has an interesting plot and it is a nice change of pace from the often recycled plots present in chick lit novels. PJ, Leslie, Jonathan, Sticky and Samantha are all interesting characters, and the author does a good job of developing the subplots of the lives of Leslie and Samantha. I especially enjoyed reading about PJ’s music compilations, the San Francisco club scene, and Samantha’s foray into modeling. While I was initially wary of reading a story about a DJ who “couch hops,” the book ended up being an enjoyable change of pace from the more regular chick lit fare. I recommend Couch World to fans of chick lit and I will be reading more by this author.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Shannon Bigham, 2005

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