Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Let a Hungry Woman in Paris and B as in Beauty show you the deliciousness of debut novels

Canela Guerruero is discontented with her life for many reasons;her work as a journalist has been constantly undermined over and over again due to not following the political flavor of the month and her family is less than thrilled about Canela's breaking her engagement to a very eligible doctor(especially her controlling mother and gossipy aunts).

Plus. the recent death of her favorite cousin and best friend Luna just puts the dark cherry on top of Canela's despair cake.

With a need to get away from it all,Canela takes a trip to Paris(her intended honeymoon spot)and decides to stay for awhile. In need of finding new purpose and an extended visa,she enrolls in one of the city's most respected cooking schools,Le Coq Rouge. Cooking has never been a passion for Canela,due to growing up in a household where the best food was to be prepared and served up with style only to the men.

Yet,she starts to find some real joy in the culinary arts and gets to indulge in more than one spiritual and sensual awakening during her time in the City of Lights. All of Canela's problems are not magically solved,but she starts to see more than one side to the situations in her life and more confidence in seeking out solutions to them.

Josefina Lopez is best known as the screenwriter of Real Women Have Curves(which debuted the pre-Ugly Betty talents of America Ferrara)and her writing skills here are as sharply focused here as they were for the film.

While Hungry Woman in Paris does have some sweet sections about Canela's cooking school experiences,it also offers a few bitter tastes of reality via encounters with prejudice and sexism both in the US and France.

However,the mix of emotions help to bring the narrative to a savory simmer,which leads both the reader and Canela to truly understand how turning something that was always a chore into a vibrant expression of love towards the people in your life:

In Alberto Ferreras' debut novel,B as in Beauty,his leading lady B(short for Beauty) is also troubled about many obstacles in her path to happiness,most of which she blames on her weight.

B's worst fears are confirmed as one day at work,she happens to overhear Bonnie,her boss from hell,tell a confidante that despite all of the extra time and effort that she's put into her job,B will never be given a shot at a promotion. That,along with striking out in the love department,B is on the brink of just throwing in the towel on life.

The opportunity to get a new outlook on things comes unexpectedly,during a late tax filing. B is offered an unusual sideline job by her tax preparer,a mysterious Russian woman who insists that she doesn't run a prostitution ring,rather a "comfort provider" service that caters to men who like big women to fulfill their offbeat fantasies.

B tries it out,as a lark and while the men she meets do have some weird requests,she is not asked to sleep with them at all. In fact,some of the encounters start to give her a growing sense of confidence,which not only helps her out with the office politics at work but gives B the courage to take a real shot at love.

Ferreras takes a much lighter tone than Lopez with this material but his tone is just as compelling and down to earth as her book is. The humor and the chick lit style of storytelling makes the plot hum along with ease. One of Ferreras' former jobs was as a creative consultant for HBO and you can see how these characters would be well suited to a smart,sassy TV series.

B as in Beauty is a delectable delight and it's a true joy to watch as B grows to appreciate her full name and discover her own personal la dolce vita as well:

While both of these books share a lot in common,being first time novels that focus on the social struggles of Latina women,the strongest connection between the two is a universal one. The pair of them deal with the perception of heavy set women by not only the media and thin folks,but by women themselves. It's a positive plus for both of these titles that the message of accepting yourself before anyone else can do so is encouraged and that real women should embrace their curves:

1 comment:

Ladytink_534 said...

Great review! I've been hearing good things about both of theses lately :)