Wiser than it seems


Expecting Emily Clare Dowling

[This review was written in 2006] I’ve always been one of those to turn a scornful eye on that particular branch of commercial fiction often referred to as chick lit, but having read a couple of Clare Dowling books, several Marian Keyes, and a handful of others, I’m starting to understand the genre and in the process, to change my mind.

While there is a lot of dross around, there are some good writers in this area; in the better novels, behind the apparent triviality and cliches there is much well-wrought — and surprisingly well-written — social realism. That sounds condescending, which is a pity because I have a growing respect for the genre.

Expecting Emily is a portrait of a woman taking a cold hard look at her life, her values, her own image of herself. There is no self pity, no victim mentality, but a realization of her own responsibility for her own life and the decisions she takes. Dowling looks at ordinary women, in ordinary situations, with respect and affection. And in the process turns the reader’s scorn to empathy. In a world where feminism seems to be taking a nose-dive, quite surprisingly, chick lit like this can revive and reinvigorate it.


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