Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld: ‘Hot eventually gets boring but funny never does’  

Cover image for Romantic Comedy by Curtis SittenfeldIt might seem surprising but I have a weakness for romcoms. If done well, they have me snivelling happily on the sofa or in the case of the wonderful Rye Lane, at the cinema. Curtis Sittenfeld’s Romantic Comedy sounded like a pleasing subversion of the romcom rules with its averagely attractive introvert meets rock god storyline so I grabbed the opportunity to read it on NetGalley.

Just as I always did, I’d turn my feelings into comedy, and that was how I’d cure myself.  

Sally’s a writer for The Night Owls, the comedy sketch show that’s as old as she is. TNO takes up most of her time with its frenetic schedule, leaving her little opportunity for romance. Every show stars a guest host, an actor or musician whose work is showcased but who also gets involved in the show’s production. In April 2018, it’s Noah Brewster, celebrated singer songwriter and surfer dude whose music Sally dismisses airily as cheesy. Dan, her office mate, equally average in the looks department, is in the first rosy days of an affair with a gorgeous actor who sometimes appears on TNO, caught up in the social media storm which charts her every move. Weary of the double standard which sees nondescript men dating beautiful women, an idea that raises no eyebrows at all, while the opposite seemingly never happens, Sally pitches a sketch called the Dan Horst Rule. As the cast and crew hurtle through the week towards their deadline, Sally and Noah get to know each other a little until a misunderstanding sees her exiting an afterparty in confusion. Two years later, the pandemic hits and a surprising email appears in Sally’s inbox.

What’s it like to be so beautiful you never have to make the first move?  

I was a little dismayed by the novel’s first section, weighed down as it is by detail about the workings of a TV comedy show, but Sally’s voice was engaging enough to keep me going. Once Noah’s surprise email drops into her inbox the pace quickens and I found myself rooting for this tentative couple, one of whom seems very much better adjusted than the other. Sally is a likeable narrator, smart and snarky with a head full of unfinished romcom scripts all of which break the Dan Horst Rule. Noah is the insecure superstar, burdened with a handsomeness so extreme it startles Sally, considerate, kind and admiring of her writing talent. Like Sally, I was a little concerned that he might be too good to be true. Obviously, I was eager for a happy ending, and obviously I’m not going to give it away. An enjoyable novel, funny, heart-warming and a little subversive.

Doubleday: London 9780857527493 320 pages Hardback (Read via NetGalley)

14 thoughts on “Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld: ‘Hot eventually gets boring but funny never does’  ”

    1. You’re in safe hands with Curtis Sittenfeld who serves up a nice dose of satire. They’re not my literary cup of tea, either, but I do enjoy a happy ending on screen!

  1. Probably not a novel I would be drawn to, yet you make it sound really delightful and as you say heart warming. Oddly, I am more likely to watch a romcom (though, rarely) than read a modern one. A perfect holiday read maybe.

  2. This new book of Sittenfeld’s caught my eye because I, too, like romantic comedies. Mostly on the screen, although I do like to read one, too, every now and then. This sounds like fun. Although, I tend to be wary of the really good-looking men. Haha!

  3. I just finished reading this on Saturday while on a short break. It was effortlessly entertaining, like all of her books, and just different enough from your typical romance novel or romcom film to keep my interest. I think one’s enjoyment of the first part may be in proportion to one’s familiarity with Saturday Night Live and its alumni. The e-mail section was my favourite by far.

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