Hilarious and heartbreaking, combining the emotional incisiveness of Jane Austen with the up-to-the-minute frankness of "Sex and the City," Dunn's latest work will be the passing must-read novel of the summer.
When Alison Hopkins's live-in boyfriend, Tom, leaves mid-dinner party to buy mustard and then calls to say he's never coming back, she doesn't know who to blame: Tom, for falling back in love with his old girlfriend Kate Pearce; Kate, for clouding his mind with her seductive charms; or herself, for being a lapsed Evangelist Christian living, as her mother would say, "in sin." So Alison decides to distribute the blame, reserving a large portion for herself. It's hard not to sympathize with Alison as she struggles to salvage her life and her column-writing career, but Foss's exaggerated narration doesn't do this funny, insightful and mildly neurotic protagonist justice. Foss's robust voice cycles from nearly inaudible to ear-ringingly loud. Although she sometimes uses different inflections to convey Alison's emotions, she more often uses volume, which will frustrate listeners who don't want to keep their fingers trained on the volume control. Foss also struggles with her male impersonations; curiously, all her male characters come off sounding like they have head colds. Although Dunn's tale possesses both wit and charm, this audio adaptation would have benefited from a subtler treatment. Simultaneous release with the Little, Brown hardcover (Forecasts, May 10).