Thursday, January 22, 2009

REVIEW: Shopgirl, by Steve Martin

Shopgirl, by Steve Martin. Published 2000 by Hyperion.

Click here to buy Shopgirl from your local indie bookstore.

Shopgirl is a slim little slip of a book, a novella really, about a young woman named Mirabelle who works behind the glove counter at an upscale department store as she tries to make her way in the world. A pained introvert, she likes the glove counter because it is quiet, but she manages nonetheless to come to the attention of two men, a young man named Jeremy and an older one named Ray.

Mirabelle doesn't so much choose between the two as she grows up through her relationship with each. The men grow up too- she inspires each of them to be better, in his own way. But the road to personal growth is bumpy and littered with missed connections, crossed paths and misstated intentions, and everyone ends up, as Bart Simpson once said after a failed romance of his own, a little wiser and a little less naive.

I think Shopgirl was a terrific read. I was very impressed with how well Martin understands young women- their fears and insecurities, as well as their joys. Mirabelle is not a glamorous, vivacious big-city girl with fancy clothes and designer shoes. Instead she is talented but lonely, bright but innocent, depressed but also easily delighted- in other words, a typical young twentysomething. Jeremy and Ray also defy stereotype and easy labelling, and I found their interactions and relationships to be believeable and real. I also liked the irony and gentle humor, and the quiet precision of Martin's writing. The narrator's voice sometimes comes off as arch and overly mannered, but I think the overall effect is that of someone watching over Mirabelle, rooting for her and protecting her. In the end she doesn't need protection- she just needs confidence, and once she gets that confidence I felt like the sky was the limit for her. A little more literary than chick-lit and a little more serious than one might expect from a comedian like Martin, I found Shopgirl to be a lovely little treat.

Rating: BUY


FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

15 comments:

Zibilee said...

I read this awhile back, and was surprised at how much I liked it. Great review!

Scobberlotcher said...

Terrific review. I liked this book so much I bought Martin's next book The Pleasure of My Company. It was hilarious.

bermudaonion said...

When I saw the author, I wondered if that was Steve Martin, the comedian. How interesting that he's written a book like that.

naida said...

I had no idea this was a book, I saw the film, and it was pretty good. great review :)
http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

Alea said...

Yay! I enjoyed this one as well (and the movie too!) I've read his other one, The Pleasure of My Company I liked that one too but maybe not as much.

candyschultz said...

I saw the film and found it rather depressing. I didn't realize Steve Martin had written it.

trish said...

Great review! I think Shopgirl was an excellent read. I'd love to read more from Steve Martin...though I didn't like The Pleasure of My Company as much as Shopgirl.

Anna said...

I've heard of this one, but I've been hesitant. Glad to hear Martin's writing is good. I think I might check this one out after all. Great review!

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric

Lenore said...

I also read this a few years ago and was surprised how much I liked it.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I've heard of this, but I didn't know what it was really about. Sounds interesting though!

-Lauren

Rol said...

Agreed, I loved this book when I read it... could hardly believe it was the same Steve Martin.

booktrash said...

This looks good. There seem to be lots of copies on bookmooch, so hopefully I can get hold of it.

Andi said...

I loooved this novella, and I was really surprised at how darn good Martin is. I also loved the movie version--it was charming and visually stunning.

Shana said...

I've wanted to read this forever, Marie and your review has inspired me to try to get to it sooner rather than later!

charley said...

I was also impressed with how well Martin seemed to understand women.