There’s nothing deep or life-changing about this book — it’s just a lot of fun, and I’ve always enjoyed the love story of unsuccessful photojournalist Gretchen Griner, who decides to take a stab at writing a romance novel and improbably has a romance hero fall practically into her lap. Rye St. John fulfills every romance stereotype — he’s ruggedly handsome, exotically foreign, strong-but-sensitive, and most importantly, he’s unattainable. Gretchen’s discovery that her romance hero is not all he appears to be makes a great read. The humour I enjoyed so much when I first read this book 20 years ago sometimes sounds a little shrill and overwritten now — Bird is very fond of her similes and metaphors, maybe a bit too much — but for the most part I enjoyed it as much as ever on this reread.
This silly and sweet story was very badly transformed into a movie called Don’t Tell Her It’s Me, which I’m sorry to say I watched. Some people feel the movie’s greatest gaffe was casting Steve Guttenburg and Shelley Long as brother and sister, but that wasn’t what got me. What got me about the movie was how completely untrue it was to the spirit of the book. Gretchen is so completely and utterly not a romance heroine that she’s blown away to find herself living in a romance. She meditates at length, for example, on how awful it is to have an ugly name like “Gretchen Griner,” which sounds like gears changing. In the movie, the character’s name has been changed to “Emily Pare” and the guy who has a crush on her dreamily meditates on what a beautiful-sounding name it is. Which I think tells you everything about the movie. Don’t wait for the movie … but do read the book, if you get a chance.