Monday, July 14, 2014


Skinnydipping, by Bethenny Frankel

This, the first (and last?) attempt at fiction by former New York Housewife (who left the show after marrying... which would be ironic IF any of them were actual "housewives") and failed talk-show personality, Bethenny Frankel.

I used to be a Bethenny fan. She was my favorite "housewife" but I never kept up with her after the self-titled reality spin-off that detailed her marriage to Jason and unexpected pregnancy and subsequent childbirth. I thought I would tune into her talk show... but I didn't. Much like I thought I would read her Health or Self-Help books, which I bought or downloaded... and then didn't.

I appreciate a good train wreck as much as the next reality television fan, but I didn't find her brand of crazy particularly entertaining. She's like the middle-age Miley Cyrus... with antics such as Instagramming a shot of her parading in her four year-old's "Hello Kitty" pajamas recently.

But, this novel is fiction, right? Well, for definition's sake, yes. However, if you are at all familiar with Bethenny "The Early Years," you are going to easily note many similarities between the main character, Faith Brightstone, and the author herself. From the distant horse track father to competing on a Martha Stewart-esque reality show (with a similar reality-to-fiction ending), to morphing from Muffin Maven to Cocktail Queen. Franklel has penned her own historical fiction, perhaps with a happier ending she wishes were true?

The novel is divided into the two stages of Faith Brightstone's life - the first as an assistant on a popular Los Angeles "The OC"-type drama. A life filled with borrowed clothes and car, fancy Hollywood parties, sexually-charged and cocaine-laced nights. A life of Hollywood glitz that is just out of her reach.

Then following a creative segue along the lines of "Five Years Later," Brightstone has returned to New York to manage a struggling vegan muffin business until the opportunity to fill the final remaining spot on a reality show to find the next "Domestic Goddess" falls right on her (muffin) platter... literally. Most remaining pages detail the culinary and decorative tasks and the no-longer-behind-camera catiness that causes the reality genre to proliferate.

There is, of course, too, a Prince Charming narrative that weaves Part One and Two together and wraps the novel in a neat little bow with a happy ending.

Ok, that being said, all snarking aside, it wasn't... bad. It's simply written and occasionally smothers the reader with extremes- whether it is in description of what characters are wearing or the unbelievable turns of the plot. It's a light read though, playful, good for a Summer Reading List.

For the record though, there is no "Skinnydipping" in the book. I am left to think this was meant to be a metaphor for "jumping in" and allowing yourself to be fully exposed to life's offering, which would aptly describe the main character's attitude in both parts of the novel. I am a bit iffy to give Frankel that much literary credit though.

In part, I think maybe it just allowed her the chance to superimpose her Peta image on the novel cover?

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