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J'Adore New York

by Isabelle Lafl�che

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When Catherine Lambert leaves her law firm’s Paris office for the glitzy allure of New York City, she’s not quite prepared for the whirlwind that soon becomes her life: a maze of racking up billable hours, battling diva bosses and struggling with interoffice dynamics. As an accomplished lawyer in a top firm, Catherine has dreams of making partner and donning the latest Dior fashions — preferably at the same time. But shall the two ever meet? And when her time at the firm begins to sour, is it time to walk away?

Isabelle Laflèche’s J’adore New York is a type of women’s fiction with which I’m quite familiar: young woman arrives in the big city with a law degree and big dreams; young woman is derailed by vindictive, unkind colleagues; young woman must decide if having the big job is really worth the mess of it all — and if she can stand giving up love, family and freedom in exchange for the corner office.

Yes, friends, we’ve heard it all before — but that didn’t mean it didn’t work here. Laflèche combines enough unique characteristics in Catherine that I didn’t feel like I was reading the same book over and over again. And Catherine — graceful, intelligent, powerful, French – wasn’t a heroine with which I already felt familiar. It’s cliche to say, “Oh, she’s a great female role model!” but truly, she was. Where the plot could have detoured with Catherine suddenly becoming a flustered, swooning lady who throws all her good sense out the window for a man, she didn’t. She was better than that. And thank goodness, because that’s precisely the type of book I want to throw out the window.

The plot here moves along quickly, though not much seems to happen. It’s all about Catherine’s internal struggle: choosing happiness; love over doubt; freedom over a stifling atmosphere that no longer makes her happy. While this isn’t a traditional coming-of-age story, it is a book about a woman rediscovering her passion . . . and her descriptions of couture and sample sales had me drooling. Laflèche never gets bogged down in the details, though, a la “Sex And The City” — and thank goodness. While I enjoy an occasional mention of a gorgeous shoes or sumptuous fabrics, I hate when books feel like a shout-out to every fashionable designer on the planet. Are they paying for the plugs?

And another huge plus? Many books feature “powerful” women, like lawyers, but fail to ever actually show them working. It’s understood that they’re successful without us getting an inkling of how they got that way. Laflèche brings us right into Catherine’s firm — and it’s anything but boring. With all the politics going on and crazy, colorful coworkers, Edwards & White is a pretty happening place. But even someone like me — someone not all that interested in law — could get a feel for what it would be like to work somewhere like this. As a character, Catherine is known for explaining law jargon in an easy, accessible way — and I’ll go out on a limb and say she gets that from Laflèche.

Fans of women’s fiction and New York-based novels will find a pleasant, if not earth-shattering, story in J’adore New York. While I didn’t finish the book feeling enlightened or changed, it was definitely a worthwhile experience — and a lawyer’s law novel. ( )
  writemeg | Oct 25, 2010 |
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A woman's perfume tells more about her than her handwriting. -- Christian Dior
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To my parents and to Patrice
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"Massachusetts! Where's the goddamn paperwork for Massachusetts?"
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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