Monday, July 5, 2010

Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison

Book Details
Thin, Rich, Pretty by Beth Harbison
Hardcover, 352 Pages
2010, St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312381980

Twenty years ago, when they were teenagers, Holly and Nicola were the outsiders at summer camp. Holly was the plump one, a dreamer who longed to be an artist. Nicola was the shy, plain one who wanted nothing more than to be beautiful. Their cabin nemesis was Lexi. Rich, spoiled, evil Lexi. One night, Holly and Nicola team up to pull one, daring act of vengeance. But they never dream that this one act will have repercussions that will reach into the future, even twenty years later. And they never realize the secret pain that Lexi holds very close, and how their need for revenge costs Lexi a great deal.

Today, Holly is a successful gallery owner, who has put her own artistic dreams on hold. She struggles with her weight and for approval from her constantly-criticizing boyfriend. Nicola, is an almost-famous actress who believes that one little plastic surgery fix is just what she needs to put her over the edge into fame. And Lexi…Lexi is down on her luck and totally broke.

Holly will do anything to be thin. Lexi will do anything to be rich. And Nicola will do anything to be pretty. Thin, Rich, Pretty is the story of three women who believe that happiness is the next dress size down, the next dollar figure up, or the next appreciative glance from a stranger. But mostly it’s the story of how three women save each other, and show each other the path to true contentment. Told with Beth Harbison’s knack for thirty and fortysomething nostalgia, and heartwarming humor, Thin, Rich, Pretty will strike a chord with any woman who has ever got on the scale, looked in the mirror, or the bank, and said, “if only…”

Thin, Rich, Pretty volleys between summer camp twenty years ago and the present day. In the past, we see Holly picked on because of her weight, Nicola self-conscious of her large nose and Lexi being hateful to all those around her because of her mother's death and the introduction of her step-mother. In the present, we see Holly still concerned about her weight, Nicola still fretting about her nose and once rich Lexi left virtually penniless due to her father's will and her step-mother's cruelty.

I loved the portrayal of summer camp and the nastiness between the girls. It was like middle school or high school, 24 hours a day. The girls, assigned to the same bunk, were forced to spend time together despite their feelings towards one another. Holly and Nicola's friendship stemmed from their being picked on by Lexi and her friends, and managed to survive into adulthood.

Thin, Rich, Pretty was often predictable. Holly diets to win a man's approval. Nicola gets a nose job to get better acting jobs. Lexi, on her own without any income for the first time in her life, helps a man with his house to make ends meet. Things backfire, things change and some end up more miserable because of it. The women reunite and, of course, they all learn that what's on the inside matters in the end, with self-confidence and self-reliance being the major lessons learned.

A cute romance develops in Lexi's storyline, but it seemed inevitable as soon as the man was introduced. The story was entertaining and uplifting at times, but I felt like I knew almost exactly what was going to happen every step of the way. Thin, Rich, Pretty has a bit too much in common with most other women's fiction books. It's fun, but nothing really memorable stands out.


Beth Harbison's


  1. +JMJ+

    Well, that's sad. With a title like Thin, Rich, Pretty, I hoped we'd get a good dose of satire and maybe (just to mix things up a little) a soulful edge.

    Thanks for the review!

  2. @Enbrethiliel - Exactly. Like I said, it wasn't bad. I was just hoping for something a little different to make it stand out from all of the other pretty similar books.

  3. Perfect review! I totally know what you mean. I haven't read this book, but I've read many others where I felt the same way - it was cute and fun, but didn't stand out.

  4. @Emidy - Thanks! It's always disappointing. And hard to explain - that the book is good, but not different - like you may love it, as long as you don't read a lot of books on the same topic.

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