My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars
When I read the synopsis of A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out, an ARC I received through Goodreads.com, it sounded a lot like Laura Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada so I was definitely expecting a fairly light chick-lit. In many respects, the two novels have plenty in common. Like the earlier novel, Sally Franson’s work centers around a twenty-something woman who gets what job she can after earning her degree in English – in this case working at a marketing firm – then loses her way and her moral compass with the help of an accomplished, powerful yet ultimately corrupt female boss before finding her way back, her true calling, and (potentially) love with the help of some truly good friends.
A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is much more than Casey Pendergast’s story of navigating the sometimes morally questionable world of advertising though. The novel explores how a well-meaning (most of the time) but sheltered young woman could lose her way, how this intelligent (but not always smart) woman can end up in any number of compromising situations, how the world – especially in today’s world of social media, memes and YouTube videos – can judge so harshly with no evidence and the double standard by which they judge men versus women, the power of friendship, and why our past determines the decisions – good or bad – that we make. Casey, though not always likable, represents all women as she makes mistakes, comes to terms with them with the help of those who love her, starts to be true to herself, and learns that she will continue to make mistakes.
This book held so many important truths about women, work, relationships, society, and most of becoming the best person we can be. Reading A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out was often exhausting like having a needy, selfish friend (like Casey). It wasn’t the characters and their endless drama that sap my reading energy but rather the mirror the book held up to my life and society as a whole and the lessons it taught me.
A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out can at times ramble as Casey’s inner monologue gives voice to her fears and rationalizations and the lessons she’s learned. And Casey is often really not likable. But I think that there are so many important passages and the story truly is a good one that I highly recommend this novel.
A Lady’s Guide to Selling Out is like so many other urban-life chick-lit novels yet completely unique so I could write a whole list of recommendations – Copygirl by Anna Mitchael and My Not So Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella for instance – but nothing I’ve read yet is exactly like this novel.