Living Single
Holly Chamberlin
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Living Single
Holly Chamberlin
352 pages
September 2002
rated 1 of 5 possible stars

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Thirty-two year old Erin Weston’s biological clock is ticking loud enough to deafen her, and she’s certain that the man of her dreams will soon come into her life. Career-wise, she’s happy and contented at the Boston PR firm where she’s a rising executive. Her parents are divorced, and her mother is leading a nomadic and carefree life somewhere in South America, from where she periodically sends Erin postcards filled with unwanted advice, criticism, and unneeded details of her varied sex life and keeps demanding money from her. Erin is fast friends with three other women: JoAnne, a pediatrician who’s hard and judgmental; Maggie, who’s secretive, quiet and supportive; and Abby, the most romantic and conservative of the four. These well-educated, intelligent women of today meet regularly, gossip, give opinions, and hold frank discussions about men and their sex lives.

Erin meets and is instantly smitten with a married man named Doug, with whom she begins a torrid but clandestine affair against the advice of her own conscience and of her friends. JoAnne realizes the true value of love and relationships only after a tragic medical scare. Maggie tries to put her traumatic past behind her and find happiness again. And Abby falls for Erin’s divorced father. The book spans exactly a year, detailing the lives of these four sisters-in-arms in that time. There is no happy ending as such, but the book does end on a hopeful note.

Holly Chamberlin has tried to imbue her debut attempt with all the sex appeal of HBO’s Sex and the City and the sharp humor of Bridget Jones Diary. The result is that Living Single is a poor mix-and-match of both, and has the charm and appeal of neither. The greatly clichéd characterizations are mainly responsible for this. The plot is nothing new and is, at the same time, glaringly predictable. Ditto the dialogue. What little humor there is comes from the antics of Erin’s gallivanting mother who’s having more fun than all the main characters combined. The pace is desultory at best, and meanders quite a bit. The story has a lot of potential to it, but the author has still got some way to go.

© 2003 by Rashmi Srinivas for Curled Up With a Good Book

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