DREAMING IN BLACK AND WHITE: A Phoebe Grant Novel

Laura Jensen Walker, Author . WestBow $13.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8499-4523-6

Walker, a Christian humorist, begins her Phoebe Grant series with this somewhat charming but often frustratingly formulaic and derivative debut novel. Phoebe, a 31-year-old city girl, writes mental "notes to self" about weight, food, clothes and romance, which makes the book often read like little more than a Christian imitation of Bridget Jones's Diary . And since it revolves around the same premise as You've Got Mail , Walker's novel loses even more points for originality. Most plot developments are telegraphed and all too familiar: the city girl finding her "real" home in a small town; the fight to save a beloved old movie theater; the dramatic, unplanned home birth scene at the end. Classic –movie–loving Phoebe's incessant film referencing is sometimes clever, but adds to the sense that this novel relies too heavily upon popular culture for its source material. Despite these flaws, Walker offers some well-observed scenes; these moments, unlike the rest of the book, feel as if they're drawn from real people's lives. For example, Walker's wittily authentic take on the mating habits of Christian singles is reminiscent of Ray Blackston's fresh comedy Flabbergasted and offers hope that she will find a more distinctive voice in subsequent Phoebe Grant novels. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/07/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-4185-6981-5
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