At first glance, The L.A. Commandments, by Gillian Duffy, is a light-hearted twist on traditional chick lit. The heroine, Jo, and her friend Suzie, take time out from their bad economic situations in Ireland to blow off steam in Los Angeles. Practically as soon as they hit LA, they end up in a situation that seems almost too good to be true. They get jobs right away (as a bartender and shopkeeper), find a place to live, and locate some cute guys to hook up with. It doesn’t hurt that at least one of the cute guys, Marc, is in a rock band that’s about to go big.
The more you read, the more serious the book becomes. Yes, Marc is hot, talented, and famous, and he and Jo seem to be forming a real connection. Bonus: he’s from Ireland too. Suzie has trouble with finding the right guy, even though she’s got a great alternative right under her nose, and she, Jo, and Marc spend a lot of time drinking. (So does Jo’s father.) The relatives of several main characters encounter serious health problems, which brings the action back to Ireland. In the last quarter or so of the book, the action gets even more dramatic—just when you’d wish it to—although it does seem like the characters have a mixture of excellent and horrible luck. Some plot twists seem rather predictable (can’t reveal them without spoiling), while others may take you totally by surprise.
For instance, the very end of the book includes a twist that may shock readers looking for traditional chick lit. In fact, at first I thought the moment was a narrative fake-out, and had to reread the scene to make sure it wasn’t a joke. It’s hard to go into too much detail without ruining the book for someone else: without getting into the final plot points, I was shocked and disappointed about one male character’s fate.
Rating:(for this reader, the ending kept this book from being a 3)
Rachel, who has a Ph.D. in English, is a freelance writer/editor and a voracious reader. You can talk to her about books at http://twitter.com/writehandmann.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by the Gillian Duffy. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.