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.

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6 responses to “Review : Shopgirl”

  1. nat @ book, line, and sinker says :

    i saw ‘shop girl’ a few months back–i didn’t realize that it was a book or that steve martin was so multi-faceted. claire danes is a fave of mine from way back (my so-called life), which is what inspired me to pick up the movie. if i see the book, i’ll give it a read. 🙂

  2. claire says :

    I also didn’t know this was a book, but I really liked the movie.

  3. kittykay says :

    Claire Danes is a fave of mine, too! I heard really nice things about the movie, and I’m wondering how different it is from the book.

  4. Priscilla says :

    I loved this book. The Pleasure of My Company is also a pleasurable read, with some great funny moments. 🙂

    • kittykay says :

      I’m glad to hear that! After reading Shopgirl I absolutely wanted to read more from Martin, and I bought The Pleasure of My Company. I read a few pages out of curiosity, and it looked great!

  5. Megan says :

    Enjoyed this fast read that felt more like a novella! I have to admit, though, that this was one of those rare instances when I enjoyed the movie far more than the book. “Shopgirl” the film makes me cry every time — particularly at the end! I really relate to Mirabelle, and several lines are always running through my head, though I’m paraphrasing: “I can hurt now, or I can hurt later. Hurt now, I guess.”

    Oh, how true that feels sometimes! 🙂

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