Cupid & Diana by Christina Bartolomeo

Diana & Cupid by Christina Bartolomeo

Reviewed by L.D.Y.

Hardcover (available in trade) 222 pages, 1998

Rating: 7/10

Reason for Reading: This was the first of Nancy Pearl’s recommendations in Book Lust that I’ve checked out (that I hadn’t read already, at least).

Synopsis: Diana’s life seems to be on the edge of falling apart: the vintage clothing store she owns is months away from bankrupcy and the man she’s supposed to love seems to have become her fiancé only through an absent-minded promise. Her sister Cynthia, a model, is determined to shake things up for her in any possible way.

Why you should read this book: A nice fluffy read, especially if you’re an admirer of vintage clothes, as Diana remembers events in her life by what she was wearing. Diana’s concerns extend beyond men into her business and her large and hard-to-handle family, adding some depth to the plot. A good look at the friendships and rivalries between sisters, as well.

Why you should avoid this book: The book is predictable, and at times Diana’s dullness might make you wish her glamourous sister was telling her story instead. Bartolomeo slows her story down with too many characters at times – she’ll describe a random uncle of Diana’s for two pages and then never mention him again, and too often these ramblings have nothing to do with adding insight into Diana’s situation. The sex scenes really could have been written with more implied than shown, since they’re closer to cringe-worthy and clichéd than they are to sexy.

Opening paragraph:

A phone call from my sister Francesca is always like a summons – even the ring has an imperious quality.
‘You have to be there,’ she said. I knew exactly how her mouth would look as she said this, like a nun’s mouth, all pruney and prissy. The mouth of a woman who still keeps a stack of gilt-edged holy cards, earned by grade school good behavior, in the back of her bureau drawer.

Fabulous quotes:

From Mary I learned the designers who suited me and those who didn’t. A ‘yes’ vote to Calvin Klein’s clean elegance and flattering necklines; a ‘no’ to Emanuel Ungaro’s cheerful prints and whimsical ruffles, adorable as they may be. Like my mother, Mary loved the hidden beauties of good workmanship that are too rare outside designer circles: a hem properly finished with lace basting tape, a lovingly worked buttonhole, a satin lining striped in old gold and rose. Fine craftmanship brought joy to her heart. When the new genius Richard Tyler came on the scene, she pinned up magazine photos of his line on her bulletin board with the words ‘This is good tailoring!’ inked across the top of the page.
Many a skirt or jacket of mine was sent to the Salvation Army after it failed to pass the test of Mary’s searing gaze. Under her tutelage, I spent half of what I used to on my wardrobe, and looked twice as good. I was her apprentice.

After months of being wooed and consoled, Nancy finally consented to sleep with him. On their first night together, she left her beloved’s arms to go floss her teeth. She never liked to make love more than once in a night. How terrible she sounded! How horrible the ex-wife always is!
I could picture Nancy so clearly. She would have medium-brown hair that she wore in some practical way when she was at the lab – in a low ponytail, or pulled away from her face with a simple tortoiseshell barrette. She’d have the sort of straight-forward, sensible good looks that caused other women to refer to her as a ‘terrific person’ (something they never said about Cynthia, for example). Nancy probably wore sneakers with her business suit when riding to work on the subway, a despicable habit. Someday she would do groundbreaking research that would give her an eternal footnote in the medical books and help thousands of people she would never meet. But I wouldn’t want to be stuck in an elevator with her; she’d probably pull out an improving book or use the time to write out her grocery list.

Also recommended: Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella; Watermelon by Marian Keyes; Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes.

Also by this author: Snowed In; The Side of the Angels.

© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2007

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *