Lynn Messina, Author . Red Dress $12.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-373-25044-8

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. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/17/2003
Release date: 01/01/2004
Open Ebook - 978-1-4592-4867-0
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