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Friday, August 19, 2011

Following Polly by Karen Bergreen (Book Review)

Title: Following Polly
Author: Karen Bergreen
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

About the book: Would you call Alice Teakle a stalker?  Or just someone with an, um, unhealthy obsession with golden girl Polly Linley Dawson?  No one much notices Alice: not her boss, not the neighbors, not even her mother.

Besides, everyone follows Polly and everything about her: her business selling high-end lingerie you can imagine only her elegant self wearing, her all-over-the-social-pages marriage to movie director Humphrey Dawson, her chic looks, her wardrobe.  Alice just follows her a little more. . . closely.

Yet one Manhattan autumn afternoon when Alice loses her job and starts to follow Polly, she stumbles on the object of her attention sprawled dead on the floor of a boutique and is forced to become truly beneath anyone's notice.  Invisible, in fact.  Because she's accused of murder.

But can another obsession help save Alice with the fallout?  Charlie is Alice's longtime unattainable crush.  He might be able to help her out of the mess she's in. . . in return for a favor or two, that is.  But how will Alice find out if Charlie is really the man she thinks he is?

My thoughts: This book was a great summer read.  I started it while on vacation and finished reading it in the car on the way home.  Normally I can only read for a little while in the car, before I either get restless or a headache - but not with this book - I read it right through to the end of the book!

Alice has lost her job and is just sort of floating, not really sure where she wants to land, when she sees Polly Dawson.  Polly is sort of her long-time nemesis from college - the one who always had everything, perfect looks, perfect clothes, perfect life, etc, so she decides to follow her.  Before she knows it, it has become an everyday obsession.  She probably knows more about where Polly goes than even her husband!  And Polly never notices her.  Unfortunately, it seems someone else has and she becomes framed for Polly's murder.

Alice goes into hiding, sort of. She camps outside of her college crush's apartment (he is/was a lawyer).  He eventually confronts her, not remembering her from college, and for some reason believes her story and takes her in.  He has his own ulterior motives for helping her. 

There are a couple of mysteries happening - first off is the obvious - who killed Polly and framed Alice - and the second is what's up with Charlie's father and will Alice be able to help Charlie find out the truth? 

There is alot of humor in this story.  It is kind of a dry humor in face of the dire situation that Alice is facing.  I especially liked this part - Alice has asked that Charlie get in touch with her best friend, Jean, to let her know that she is okay.

"Hi, Jean.  I don't know if you remember me.  My name is Walter Redwin.  We went to Harvard Law School together."

Jean pauses for a second.  I know that she's dying to get in touch with me to tell me that my Charlie called her.

This is where Charlie's part gets tricky.

"You may know me as Charlie."

Now, I know you may be wondering how I managed to get Charlie to identify himself by his crush-name.

"Just introduce yourself to her on the phone," I instructed him casually just minutes ago. "And then tell her that she may know you as Charlie."

"Why Charlie?"

"Oh, it's this thing with me and Jean."

"What kind of thing?"

A thing where I made up a name for you when I decided to become obsessed with you.

"I promise I will tell you the second I get out of trouble."  Curiosity is a great motivator.  (p148-149, Following Polly)



Now maybe you need to read more of the story to appreciate it, but Alice's character is definitely quirky.  But it is a good quirky.  During the story you get to see her grow and to embrace who she really is.  There are a couple of twists at the end, but one I definitely did not see coming.  The book wrapped up nicely.  I will definitely be watching for another book by Karen Bergreen.

~ I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and Library Thing Early Reviewers.~

About the author: Karen Bergreen is a stand-up comedian and a former lawyer.  She lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

You can find her on Facebook and  Twitter.

Following Polly came out in paperback on August 16th!

Following Polly: A Novel by Karen Bergren
Publisher/Publication Date: St. Martin's Press, June 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-57109-2
309 pages


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