Review: Getting the Pretty Back, by Molly Ringwald

Getting the Pretty Back
Getting the Pretty Back: Friendship, Family, and Finding the Perfect Lipstick
Molly Ringwald
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Summary (from Publishers Weekly):
Famous for her roles as an angst-ridden teen in John Hughes classics like Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club, Ringwald, now a 40-year-old wife and mother living largely outside the celebrity spotlight, seems a credible source of advice for young women and a likely fount of behind-the-scenes Hollywood anecdotes; unfortunately, she provides little of either in this uninspired self-help memoir. Like a well-meaning but distant friend, the actress shares advice and observations on topics like love, clothes, and food, often focusing on the inane and obvious (souvenir t-shirts are both ugly and ill-fitting; rushing into sex is usually a mistake) rather than the personal or perceptive: “When you’re a teenager, you’re forever thinking: Do they like me? When you’re a grown-up… the question becomes: Do I like them?” Ringwald occasionally involves her personal history, including the fact that the early stages of her romance with husband number two were mostly conducted over email, but she skimps on the details that her fans are probably looking for, with surprisingly little reference to the movie work that made her an icon of suburban youth in the 1980s. Color illustrations.

When my friend Deb told me she had a copy of Molly Ringwald’s book, I immediately asked if I could borrow it when she was through. I finally had a chance to read it earlier this week, and I loved it.

First, let’s be clear, in this book Ringwald gives advice on health, fashion, self-esteem, love and any number of things we women need advice about, without claiming to be an expert in any of those. In fact, she freely admits she’s sharing her own experiences in the hope that others will gain from the life lessons she’s learned. Also? She’s the kind of person – at least as presented here – that you’d be instantly comfortable meeting for a cappuccino, or hanging out with at the bookstore. For an actor, she’s incredibly real and accessible. So, don’t expect her to wax rhapsodic about hoodia gordonii or plastic surgery. She’s all about small, common sense changes.

As to my impressions of the book – I loved it! She’s not telling us anything that Tim Gunn doesn’t tell women every day, but she’s filtering it through her own experiences – especially where turning forty, having children later in life than the current trend, and marrying a younger man are involved. She’s candid in the way that someone you grew up watching in cool movies but isn’t actually someone you know seems candid. She’s playful. She’s self-deprecating.

She’s a thoroughly engaging writer, and this is a thoroughly engaging book.

If you’re over thirty-five, you NEED this book. If you’re under thirty-five, go rent Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles, and For Keeps and then go buy this book.

Because it really is a wonderful compilation of whimsical turns of phrase and really good advice.

Goes well with French onion soup and a glass of wine.

A Dangerous Dress

by Julia Holden

I bought A Dangerous Dress after reading Julia Holden’s other novel One Dance in Paris a couple weeks ago, and exchanging comments via her MySpace page. She’s kindly consented to do an emailed interview for me, when she has a few free moments, and I’m sure you’ll all enjoy it.

Anyway, this book shares with the other a trip to Paris, and is still a chick-lit coming of age story, but there are no trips to anything like Caesars Palace this time, though there is a movie set, a news set, and a bank involved.

The lead character, Jane, is working in her uncle’s bank, and feeling a bit humdrum, when she gets a call from a French movie director (who happens to be her college roommate’s father), asking her to please come to Paris and find the perfect 1928 dress for the star of his film. Her expertise, he says, comes from the college paper she wrote years before, about her late grandmother’s very own flapper dress – a dress so exotic, so unique, that it is literally dangerous. Dangerous in that edgy, seductive sort of way.

The dress is, of course, merely a catalyst. Jane jets off to find love, adventure, new skills, more adventure, and a lot of self-awareness, in an entertaining read that goes by way too fast.