Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus
By Sonya Sones
Copyright 2011
Harper - Fiction in Verse
420 pages


Which of
us hasn't passed
a vengeful hour thinking
of ways to spend the insurance

p. 77 of The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, ARC (some changes may have been made to the final print version)

Without reaching the point of reviewing, I've managed to talk at least three friends into reading The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, a sometimes-sad, often-funny, warm and witty book about being a middle-aged woman that is written entirely in verse.

Holly is about to turn 50. Her daughter is applying for distant colleges (none of them within even 1,000 miles of home), her husband may be having an affair, her mother is going through a health crisis and Holly has to deal with the doctor's annoying way of using humor to avoid honesty. Holly's reproductive years are officially behind her and the horrors of menopause are in full swing.


While waiting in line at the grocery store,
I glance at the cover of Glamour and see:
"Happy and Sexy at 20, 30, and 40!"

Wait just a hotter-than-thou minute!
I think to myself.
What about all of us happy, sexy fifty-year-olds?

I gnash my teeth
and flip the magazine over on the rack
so that the cover's facing in.

A second later,
when it's my turn to pay,
the buff young guy working the register

does something as unexpected
as a flying pig:
he winks at me.

Did you see that, Glamour?
He winked at me!
Who's happy and sexy now, huh? Huh?

I press my money into the hunky cashier's hand
with a seductive smile
and a flirty flutter of my lashes.

He gives me the once over,
then flashes me a sly grin and offers me something
that no man's ever offered me before:


pp. 115-6

You cannot help but love Holly. When her concerns start to really burden her, she becomes a bit of a Debbie Downer and you're afraid that nothing's going to improve, but then suddenly she takes charge, gets a grip, finds out the truth about this and that and you'll have laughed and cried yourself through one of the most genuine, touching, funny, poignant reads.

I'm going to skip the usual like/dislike parts because the only problem with the book is actually something you'll end up liking. Things just keep getting worse, incriminating evidence building up against a secretive husband, mother going downhill fast, teenager no longer the little girl Holly wants her to be. Holly is miserable and because you care about her, you're miserable with her. And, then, slowly she realizes her world is a good one.

The bottom line:

Highly recommended. A roller coaster emotional ride that's so fresh and unique and funny that you'll probably shove it into the hands of your friends, like I did -- especially if you're nearing 50 and can relate. I laughed, I cried, I passed my copy around. When my friend Lisa handed the book back to me, she said, "I loved this book! And, I'm only 45!" The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is great fun. I think anyone can enjoy and appreciate it, except perhaps teenagers or maybe a few young, upwardly mobile folks who refuse to think so far ahead, but those who like to read anything will likely still love it because it's a good story. The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is definitely a new favorite of mine, a 5/5. Be patient when Holly gets really whiny. I promise the ending is worth the journey. There is some graphic sex talk, so I'll add a family warning. I don't think it's likely any kid will pick the book up and keep reading it, though, to be honest.

Gushy thanks to HarperCollins for the Advance Review Copy!

It's not Friday, but it seems like it's been too long since the girls made an appearance, so here's a shot of one of my little companions. When I sit at the computer, Isabel tucks herself under or around the monitor, sometimes watching action outside the window, sometimes dozing, often batting at pens, my watch, barrettes and anything else I leave lying about on the desk. Fiona usually stays on the floor (the treadmill mat is her favorite hangout), but she's also nearby unless she has something crucial to attend to.

Sometimes I'll just reach under the monitor and rub Isabel's cute little nose or forehead. She's very tolerant of me.

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I adored The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus and have been singing its praises as well!! I imagine it will be on my "Best of 2011" list.

  2. lisa rayfield12:33 PM

    i loved that book! I could understand about feeling old and losing your kids, your body & looks. old ladys need book like one to laugh with.

    Your cat looks happy and cool

  3. Kathy,

    Yep, it's going to be one of my 2011 favorites, too. I need to add it to my recent favorites column in the sidebar.


    I know you did!! :) Exactly! We need books like that. Well, "we" meaning those of us getting close to 50. You've still got a while to pretend you're nowhere near. LOL

    Thanks! I love having a kitty under my computer monitor. She's such a friendly presence.

  4. I have been wanting to read this. I have read three of her YA verse books and liked them.

  5. Hey Nancy
    I wanted to tell you I finished You Know When the Men Are Gone last night and it was great. I did not like the cussing though. Even with my reading issues of the past months I read it in two days. I can't wait to read another book by this author.

  6. I really enjoyed her YA book, the one I read. I worry that I won't really appreciate this one though, since my kids are still babies and not teenagers.

  7. Sharon,

    I'm going to have to look up her YA books. Several people have told me they're very good and since I loved this book so much, I'm anxious to read more.

    Hi Brittanie,

    You know, it's been long enough that I don't remember any cussing at all. I just remember how much I liked the stories and the way they fed into each other -- plus, having to put down the book a few times because it was so emotional. I hid in the bedroom and sobbed when I finished that last story.

    Me, too. I wonder what the author is working on, next!


    You might not, but it's worth a try because it's such a good story. I can really relate, though. Last year, when my youngest son went to college, I pretty much went to pieces. And, he was only 30 miles away! You wouldn't think that would cause a crisis, but I just love having him around. He's about as pleasant as a teenager can be.

  8. I really liked this book! As a woman of a certain age, I could certainly relate!!

  9. Wow! I haven't even heard of this book! It sounds like the perfect summer read for this soon-to-be 50 year old! Especially if you gave it a 5/5 rating.

  10. I read Kathy's review of this and thought that the book sounded like it had real promise. It seems like the kind of thing that will get women of all ages talking. Great review today, and great photos of the kitty!

  11. Joemmama,

    Unfortunately, I could relate, too. LOL


    In hindsight, I might take half a point off for dragging out the negativity, but other than that I can't think of anything at all I didn't like. I think you'd enjoy Neiman Marcus. Our ages make us the perfect audience! :)


    So far, everyone I've encouraged to read the book has loved it and we've had fun chatting about it, although it's not one for deep discussion. Thank you!


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