Because She Can Hardcover – Feb 5 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
The not–Anna Wintour character in this much-hyped my-boss-is-famously-unpleasant roman à clef is not–Judith Regan—or, to be positive, is Vivian Grant of Grant Books, "the most hotheaded, ruthless woman" in publishing. She physically and verbally abuses her staff, is having an affair with a married New York City official (who dresses in drag) and has made a "fortune by producing tabloid-inspired blockbusters." And though up-and-coming literary fiction editor Claire Truman has heard all the gossip, she takes a job as an editor at Grant Books and quickly discovers Vivian lives up to her reputation as a foul-mouthed, über-demanding, tantrum-throwing tyrant. Claire tries to maintain some semblance of a life (she's engaged to dreamboat Randall Cox, who went from big man on campus to big man at Goldman Sachs, even though she's really in love with Luke Mayville, a sensitive writer/unrecognized genius), but vicious Vivian keeps her within spitting (and swearing) distance 27 hours a day. Clark, who worked at Regan Books, nails the dark side of the vulgar, spiteful boss archetype, and though the plot is as shopworn as the characters, those in the Page Six and Lloyd Grove set will appreciate this devilish read. (Feb. 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Clark, who once worked for publishing mogul Judith Regan, makes her debut in a devilishly funny companion piece to Lauren Weisberger's Devil Wears Prada (2003), substituting the book business for the fashion industry. Claire Truman, who works for a top-tier New York publisher, is about to lose her beloved mentor to retirement. Then she runs into her old college crush, wealthy Randall Cox, who begins squiring her to all the trendiest restaurants in town and lands her a job interview with Vivian Grant, a highly successful publisher known for churning out best-sellers on porn, pulp, and politics. Things start promisingly, especially when Claire is given the go-ahead to sign up talented first novelist Luke Mayville, but Claire soon starts receiving midnight phone calls full of impossible demands from her imperious new boss. Faced with a soul-crushing workload and a marriage proposal from her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend, an overwhelmed Claire must suddenly make some life-altering decisions. This entertaining novel rises above its predictable plot and sometimes-flat characters on the strength of its humor--Vivian's vitriolic tantrums are laugh-out-loud funny. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Author Bridie Clark was formerly an editor for ReganBooks so it's not a stretch of the imagination to realize from whence her inspiration came. Judith Regan, once in high cotton at Harper Collins, was fired after the O. J. Simpson book debacle (remember, she was going to publish a book by Simpson that contained an interview about his wife's murder). All of this is to say that Clark knows of what she writes and she pens it very, very well.
Our heroine finds herself perplexed by her feelings for Randall Cox, a terrific looking, successful guy and her attraction to Luke Mayville who has just finished his first novel. She loves the book and touts it to Vivian despite the harridan's motto "Smut sells."
What to do? Claire is involved with two attractive men. Which one is for her? That is, if there's anything left of her after suffering the slings of Vivian. She is getting three times her previous salary but is it worth it?
Voice performer Mary Birdsong has a flair for comedy (Deputy Kimball in Comedy Central's Reno 911! )and she brings this to her stunning reading of "Because She Can." She ably conveys Claire's innocence and struggles.
- Gail Cooke
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Because She Can certainly sets itself apart among the recently repopularized "boss is evil" genre, but this novel is not about glorifying the cruelty of an employer so much as it is about the strength, intelligence, and internal resilience of a woman able to capitalize on any opportunity presented to her--no matter how overwhelming. Whatever you do, don't let "Villainous Boss Malaise" keep you from this novel; if you do, you'll miss the differences that make this novel stand out so successfully--in fact, you'll miss the entire point. The heroine, Claire Truman, is not a naive greenhorn suddenly thrust into the scary world of executive business with a boss who Torquemada would applaud--she's an smart professional who accepts a job with a rumored tyrant with open eyes, and knowingly prepares herself for exactly twelve months of exhaustion, late hours, and psychological abuse all with the knowledge that regardless of the questionable stability of her boss, her term with Grant Books will further her career in ways that a lateral move in the field never could. Vivian Grant and her eccentrically cruel behavior are catalysts for story progression, true, but Claire's careful navigation through her balancing act between advancing in a career and thriving relationship is what makes this story and these characters so addictive. Claire dives in and learns everything she possibly can--good and bad--from Vivian Grant and her colleagues at Grant Books, while other heroines in this genre spend the length of a novel overcoming self esteem issues in regards to their career, body image, and personal worth. Clark's heroine recognizes her own potential before she accepts the position and even squares off with her future boss over her initial contract offer (much higher than Grant actually expected to pay out). Because She Can isn't a how-to guide on how to weather abuse for the good of your career--it's a treatise on knowing when enough is enough, in both the career and social worlds, and acting on it.
Bridie Clark gives us a novel that is as much about deftly handling potentially explosive female working relationships as it is about translating those skills in a personal setting. Not only refreshing in its approach, Because She Can is genuinely funny and inspirational. Clark's Characters are memorable and carefully written to project their distinct personalities, and yet are so recognizable that it becomes difficult for readers not to see their own coworkers and friends in these roles. Each character--even odious Vivian Grant--is accessible. Because She Can manages to convey an uplifting message of self confidence and risk taking without bludgeoning the audience over the head--not an easy task in today's sound bite culture.
In this story, Claire Truman is an assistant editor in New York City looking to jump-start her career. When her new boyfriend, the oh-so-perfect Randall Cox, lands Claire a meeting with hot-shot publisher Vivian Grant, it seems like a dream come true. Before she can bat an eyelash, Claire has a new job and a huge salary at Vivian's publishing company. Unfortunately, it soon becomes very obvious that this new job isn't all it's cracked up to be. Vivian is much more then a terrible boss: She's a full-fledged psychopath, and she makes Miranda Priestly from "The Devil Wears Prada" look like an angel in comparison! Claire is determined to stick it through and remain with the company for at least a year (sound familiar, "Prada" fans?). Eventually, though, Claire's job takes a major toll on her physical and emotional health. She's at the office almost 24 hours a day, neglects her relationships with her mother and best friend, and is lucky to see Randall (who is also super-busy with work) a few hours per week. Predictably, Claire finally decides that she needs to make some major changes in her personal and professional life in order to be truly happy.
Believe it or not, I enjoyed reading this book. Clark is a good writer, and the story is humorous and fun. However, I was incredibly disappointed at what an obvious "Prada" rip-off it is. Everything about "Because She Can" was completely predictable, and I felt like I'd read the entire book before...probably because I practically have, except for the fact that Lauren Weisberger's name was on the cover! Also, the end of the book seemed very rushed to me, especially Claire's final scenes with Randall and Vivian. I just expected more.
Hopefully Clark manages to come up with some original ideas for her next book, because she definitely has potential as a writer. Sadly, though, "Because She Can" indicates that Clark just CAN'T come up with anything on her own. It's a real shame.
March 16, 2007
Amazon rating 4/5
"Bridie Clark knows how to write. Yes, BECAUSE SHE CAN has the stereotypical setting of a chick lit book - New York publishing, featuring a single twenty-something employee who works for the boss from hell. But the novel is funny in places, sad in others, and readers will empathize with main character, Claire Truman, who in the prologue is about to get married. On her wedding day, she isn't sure she should take that big step to the altar. She is stalling her walk down that aisle, her crazy boss Vivian is yelling at her because a wedding of all things is interrupting their work, and Claire is thinking about a man she kissed 6 weeks before ...
One year earlier, the story begins. Claire has a wonderful job, working under well-known editor Jackson Mayville. Unfortunately, Jackson is retiring. Bea, Claire's best friend from childhood, invites her to a happy hour, knowing her friend is currently free and available. 'Pabst blue ribbon' Randall Cox - a guy the friends had big crushes on in college - shows up, and before Claire knows it, they are dating. Their relationship moves slowly, in that she doesn't really know half the time whether they are on or off, but then she finds herself engaged to him." - Complete review at BookLoons.com - M. Lofton.
I found this book a nice surprise, as it wasn't what I had expected at all. The book reads like chick lit, with Claire working in publishing, and the tone is light and humorous. But there is a slightly serious side to her story, and I enjoyed reading about her dilemma, choosing between her dream man Randall, and several other possibilities. Fans of chick lit will love this one, as I think it is an above average read. Lots of fun, with characters the readers can relate to.
I didn't know whether to like this book or dismiss it as another peice of "I hate my boss" chick lit. Vivian seems like a caricature at times, and Randall, Claire's boyfriend, seems almost too perfect. I mean, he's a good looking, kind, and thoughtful investment banker, what's not to love? Seriously, I was rolling my eyes. Also, I thought it was completely unrealistic that someone living on Claire's salary lives on Christopher Street in the West Village. Although the book escapes other cliches (the crazy mother, the gay boyfriend), Claire comes off as trying to make herself into more of a martyr than she really is. Also, I thought she was kind of whiny at times. And the ending was predictable, to say the least.
So there are a few redeeming qualities about this book, but I think it wouldn't have been published if not for the antics of former publisher Judith Regan.
This wasn't a very good read for me as it had a rather predictable and familiar plot. It seems like more than three quarters of the book was focused on Claire being a pushover and Vivian being this maniac boss. It got old pretty fast. I wish the author had focused more on Claire's love life as opposed to just her work. In addition, there was also a lack of secondary characters development. Overall, this was an average read for me.