The book blurb and jacket for Imperfect Bliss promised a blend of Jane Austen and reality TV, a book that was “wickedly funny” and a “fast, fun read.”
I should have known what to expect from the get-go, shouldn’t I? I’ve already said, more than once, that when a book feels compelled to proclaim how funny it is, it almost never meets my expectations. Unfortunately, I have to say that this statement of mine has been proven true yet again.
Imperfect Bliss sounded like a funny send-up of the hot mess that is reality television. I expected overblown drama, mockery, and general goofball-ness. What I got were characters that felt like caricatures (and not in the good, mocking, snarky way), a plot that felt forced, and writing that simply could not pull me in.
I tried, several times, to get engaged in this one. The construct wasn’t the issue: a no-nonsense girl stuck in a wacky Elizabeth Bennett-style family is inadvertently (and quite against her will) drawn into the disaster of a family-based reality TV show about her younger sister’s decision to remain a virgin until she marries. The show is a contest to win her fair hand – and other, presumably equally fair, parts. The family dynamics are pure Pride and Prejudice, from the long-suffering and disengaging father to the melodramatic mother to the bevy of insane stereotypical sisters.
Unfortunately, nobody has ever managed (to my mind) to write P&P (or P&P-adjacent tales) even remotely close to the standard of Jane Austen – despite many people trying. This book is, in that regard, in good (and voluminous) company.
Reality TV gives me a headache. I expected this book to mock it and make light of my aching head, possibly even to find some long-lost redeeming life-lesson to be gleaned from the disaster that is reality TV. No dice. I found it too fluffy and insubstantial for my taste, like cotton candy in printed form. It might just be my lack of a sweet tooth, but this one just didn’t resonate with – or entertain – me…
A former corporate attorney and government relations/health policy executive, Jill-Elizabeth walked away from that world (well, skipped actually) and toward a more literary life (equally challenging, but infinitely more enjoyable). If you enjoyed this review, please visit her at Jill-Elizabeth.com, the official home of All Things Jill-Elizabeth.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Atria Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.