Review : Shopgirl
Shopgirl by Steve Martin
Genre : Fiction
Pages : 144
My rating : 4/5
Steve Martin is best known for his work as a performer, but Shopgirl definitely proved that he can write, too. The story is beautifully told in a narration that is both detailed and close to the feelings of the characters. Despite being a short read – I finished it in a day – it definitely left a huge impression on me. I fell in love with Mirabelle, Ray and Jeremy, enough to make me very curious about the movie version. My review today will be short, since most of what I thought of the book was written on the book cover.
From the back of the book:
Mirabelle is the “shopgirl” of the title, a young woman, beautiful in a wallflowerish kind of way, who works behind the glove counter at Neiman Marcus “selling things that nobodys buys anymore…” Mirabelle captures the attention of Ray Porter, a wealthy businessman almost twice her age. As they tentatively embark on a relationship, they struggle to decipher the language of love – with consequences that are both comic and hearthbreaking. Filled with the kind of witty, discerning observations that have brought Steve Martin critical success, Shopgirl is a work of disarming tenderness.
I am always doubtful when the book’s cover tries to sell me a book with comments such as “with consequences that are both comic and hearthbreaking”. This time though, it was true. I laughed, turned a page, felt sad, turned a page, laughed again. The humor is ironic and, at the same time, incredibly true.
This third date is also problematic because after warning Jeremy that she is not going to pay half of its cost, she is taken down to a bowling alley and forced to pay for her own rental shoes. Jeremy explains that bowling shoes are an article of clothing, and he certainly can’t be expected to pay for what she wears on a date.
The narrator never digs really deep in the characters thoughts, but rather use the details of their actions to express who they are. He also underlines how the characters, even when in the wrong, don’t necessarily do it to hurt each other; this explores another side of relationships, where even when you think things are clear, misunderstanding may happen.
On my next book-shopping trip, I’ll certainly look for more of Martin’s writing.