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Messina's debut, Fashionistas, offered readers a delightful romp through the world of fashion magazines, but her second novel, in which a self-defeating young industrial designer struggles to recover from the death of her mother and find happiness, is more like a shuffle. Tallulah, known as Lou, is the daughter of a famous designer ("every modern art museum in the world has something of his on display"), but rather than employ her own considerable talents at the family firm, she's an office drudge for a second-rate designer of trash cans. This, she reasons, will punish her father for falling in love with another woman so soon after her mother's death ("imagine: Joseph West's daughter working as a gofer for an obsolescence-monger"). When Lou gets fired, her spunky friend Hannah, who's crashing on her couch while plotting her way into a former classmate's movie, is there to cook delicious food and preach optimism and organization. During a cleaning sweep, Lou discovers that her mother has left her land in North Carolina. Now's her chance to make her dreams come true: she sells the land for a pile of money and uses the cash to start her own design business, Tallulahland. Meanwhile, Lou's slowly falling in love with her best friend, Nick, a web developer from a family of diplomats. "As a baby, he suckled on the milk of conciliation and was swaddled in tact," Lou thinks. Such self-consciously clever and distancing language-which Messina uses throughout-detracts from what might otherwise be a sweetly comic story of love and healing.
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Tallulah West, the loveable heroine of Messina's second novel, is in a rut. The daughter of famed designer Joseph West, she works for the unimaginative Marcos Medici. Her father offered her a job, but she can't bring herself to work for him, or to forgive him for moving on so quickly after her mother's death. Even with the encouragement of her friend, Nick, the sexy, sweet son of a diplomat, she can't bring herself to ask her father for a loan to start the design company she's always dreamed of. When Marcos unexpectedly fires her, Tallulah's friend, Hannah, a wanna-be actress, encourages her to organize her life. She does, and discovers a deed to property her mother owned in North Carolina. Excited by the prospect, she convinces Nick to go with her to see the property. There, Tallulah finds something she hasn't felt in a long time: hope. Readers should take a trip to Tallulahland; this funny, engaging novel is even better than Messina's first. Kristine Huntley
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This one is a lot more heart-tugging than FASHIONISTAS (Lynn Messina's first book), but it's got an equal measure of madcap breathlessness. Read morePublished on June 2 2004 by D. B. Levy
This book managed to break my heart and make me laugh out loud all in the same sentence--repeatedly! Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2004
Lynn Messina need not worry about the sophomore slump. Her second novel, TALLULAHLAND is a superb novel -- it is witty and utterly engrossing. Read morePublished on Jan. 8 2004