Lucy Fooshee is a fish out of water. Living in a small Midwestern town where behavior is prescribed and expectations limited, this local beauty queen had pinned her hopes on marriage, only to be disappointed. 'Pretty Is As Pretty Does' is an understated black comedy with an unlikely heroine. Bright, funny, mean, egocentric, and self-deceiving Lucy understands that beneath her town's culture of politeness there is a willingness to do whatever is necessary to maintain the status quo.
In her first novel, Clement sets herself a sticky challenge: she saddles herself with a heroine who is vain, selfish, sharp-tongued and obtuse, and who indulges in egotistical behavior hurtful to others, until, through suffering and regret, she emerges sadder, wiser and ready to fulfill her destiny. The trouble is that 22-year-old Lucy Fooshee, who narrates this initially amusing and then confusing tale, is so annoying that some readers will not stay around to see her triumph over her own bad nature. Lucy has been married only two weeks to farmer Bob Bybee when she catches sight of the new counterman at the town diner in Palmyra, Ill., and becomes totally besotted with handsome Bill Lee. The winner of several local beauty contests, and smugly accustomed to thinking of herself as God's gift to men, sexpot Lucy immediately comes on to the bewildered Billy, who eventually succumbs to her advances. Meanwhile Bob, whom Lucy selected as husband material merely because he comes from the second-richest family in the community, is left in the dark about his bride's change of heart, until even he becomes aware of her flagrant adultery. Though Lucy pays the price for her unconscionable behavior, Clement seems to condone Lucy's actions because she's caught in the grip of passion; the damage Lucy does to others is beside the point. It's true that everyone in Bob's uppity family, and in Lucy's poor white-trash clan, is ill-bred, ugly and racially bigoted. But in despising them all, Lucy herself does not become more appealing. West Coast author tour.