Thursday, May 31, 2012
Catholic Philosopher Chick Makes Her Debut
I'm not saying these are the words that went through my mind. However They're pretty close to what I think a lot of you thought when you saw the title. Unless you saw the "Regina Doman" part first in which case you probably bought the book before reading the synopsis. (Because that is just what die-hard Regina fans do!)
Actually it's a fairly accurate title. Imagine if that girl from "The Devil Wears Prada" turned Catholic. And then fell in love with Thomas Aquinas. And then quit her job at -insert your fashion mag of choice here- and went off to become the Next Great Catholic Philosopher. Or to attempt to.
Catelyn Frank is full of lofty ambitions and deep quotes when she disembarks her New York flight in the Houston airport. And then she's hit by culture shock, taking in the cowboy hats, friendliness, and a college that really looks nothing like the medieval university she's been envisioning. Then she's saddled with a valley girl roommate who seems to speak another language (can English really vary so much?) and a class full of guys who are both cute and utterly chauvinistic.
Will Cate succeed as a philosopher? Will she manage to find any like-minded friends? Is finding true love even a possibility?
And what did I, as a Protestant young woman who falls into the "artist" category and never took a philosophy class think of it?
It works. It's a strange sort of mix-match but that's exactly what real life is. Real life isn't tidied up into neat catagories, it's a crazy mix and it takes guts to write about it because no one's life is the same. So when you get a mix-match this specific, you risk poor profits because it's such a narrow audience. Well, a narrow audience that is going to pick up the book. And that audience should and will pick it up eagerly.
But what about the rest of us? Well, if you're not into philosophy, the philosophy heavy chapters might go over your head. Or you might learn some really interesting stuff (both happened to me). However it's definitely the best way to test out the philosophic waters, as it's chock full of plenty of other elements that make it a really fun read. Witty dialogue (often of the high sarcasm vein), three dimensional characters, and solidly rooted in American collegiate and southern life, make this a hilarious read (I was laughing at the second page and rarely stopped - which meant a lot of laughing since I read the whole book in less than 24 hours).
Need another reason? How about the fact that chick lit is a regularly scorned genre by the academically elite and "Catholic Philosopher Chick" takes that trope and stands it on its head. It takes the conventions of the chick lit genre (hot guys, clothes, bungling romance, group of girlfriends) and uses them to frame a story about an academic woman making a largely masculine discipline respect her. And how often do you get that in a story?
Since the book is about a 22-year-old grad student, it really wouldn't be very interesting to anyone who isn't at least an undergrad. However, apart from there being quite a lot of drinking (in moderation of course) there's really nothing 'objectionable' that would make this inappropriate for the 16+ crowd.