Sunday, November 19, 2023

Lola at Last, by J C Peterson

Lola returns from a disastrous year in France, to where she was sent after a scandal last summer.  She's determined to regain her position as a queen bee at school.  Instead, goaded by her deletant ex-boyfriend, she nearly burns up her brother-in-law's yacht.  Threatened with arrest for her (unintentional!) act of arson, she is offered an alternative: spending the summer in a wilderness program for young women.  Lola, whose idea of roughing it would be being seen in public in drug store make-up, is horrified.  But given the alternative, she reluctantly accepts her fate.

It's very rough going.  Lola is a mean girl and a terrible snob.  Unaccustomed to having to face consequences or take responsibility for herself, she's singularly unprepared for hiking nature trails.  So, she stumbles from one bad move to another, alienating everyone around her until she has no one left.  Forced to finally owns up to her situation, she manages to navigate her redemption.  Part of that involves shedding her toxic former friends and ex-boyfriend and finding new (and healthier) relationships.  Reconciling with her twin sister is also part of the equation.

Loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, this book is lively and quick reading.  I imagine that for fans of the original, the story will be seen as amusing and clever.  For myself, I found Lola too grating, nasty, and unsympathetic to ever really engage with.  Lydia Bennet worked as a character because of the time period in which she was living, but in the contemporary world a vain young woman who delights in knocking others down really don't succeed.  That Lola wins the nice boy and learns how to make a sincere apology in the end is not enough -- modern society has much higher expectations for young women.  Were I to meet Lola IRL, I would almost certainly dislike her and I would never trust her.

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