Review: Behaving Badly — Isabel Wolff

Read: 11
To Go: 89

Book List:
11. Behaving Badly — Isabel Wolff

Saying all men are dogs is an insult to canines everywhere.

For animal behaviourist Miranda Sweet, pets beat people, paws down. She’s convinced that animals are sweeter, softer and a lot more predictable than the men she’s been dating lately. So when she opens up her own animal clinic, she decides to focus on the species she understands, and forget about trying to fathom the murky depths of the male psyche.

While schizophrenic schnauzers and confused canaries are benefiting from her professional ministrations, her best friend Daisy is convinced that Miranda needs a little therapy, as well. Enter dishy photographer David. Even Miranda begins to think she may have been just a tad hasty in her analysis of men and she finds herself reconsidering her position.

But just as she lets her guard down, her own past reappears — and Miranda must come to terms with the fact that she hasn’t always been as sweet as she’d like to believe…

That was a long summary. This is where the review begins. (Just thought you oughta know!)

Isabel Wolff always surprises me with really unexpected and fantastic plot twists, and she did it again with Behaving Badly. There was always more to the book than what was presented on the surface, and it had a great payoff. Unlike last time I didn’t skim the book before reading it, so the big reveals shocked me quite a bit.

The characters were strongly developed and definitely relatable, and I loved that they all seemed to struggle with something. Having said that, though, I felt almost like I was having textbook psychology spelled out to me; I think as an author you need to know when to trust the reader to understand that past events in a person’s life will trigger repercussions in the future. It didn’t feel like Wolff trusted that the reader would comprehend her characters’ respective psychological issues, so occasionally I felt like I was being force-fed basic psychological concepts. It could have stood to be a little more nuanced and subtle.

However, I loved the book’s overall theme of the power of forgiveness, and how much release it can bring to you. It echoed, quite subtly, several times through the book, and tied everything together at the end. Behaving Badly was sweet, romantic, occasionally funny, and definitely impressive. Go out and read it!

Next book: Not totally sure yet. It might be The English Patient since I’m about a quarter into it.

Administrative note: I mentioned in my last post that I will, in all likelihood, be reading 110 books this year based on how of my challenge I completed in just a month. This is probably still the case, but I’m going to leave the count-down as 100 books and, if I get to the point where I’m sure I’ll continue past 100, I’ll adjust the countdown accordingly. (What I’m thinking is finishing the hundred, and then doing an “Extra books read/Extra books to go” type of thing.)

Also, I think since it’s February and I’m a romantic kind of gal, I’m going to try to read only romances, or chick-lit, for the duration of the month. Because that’s just how I roll! (And yes, the “romantic lines in lit” books factor into this overall romantic month.)

– Kelsey

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