"The Thin Pink Line"
(Reviewed by Shannon Bloomstran OCT 21, 2003)Asking me to review Lauren Baratz-Logsted's novel was probably a no-brainer. It's about pregnancy and I, you see, am also in the family way. Really, I am. I say that because reading The Thin Pink Line might cause you to question the authenticity of every pregnant woman you encounter. Subtitled "What to expect when you're really not expecting," The Thin Pink Line tells the story of a young British woman working in publishing (really, is there any other kind these days?) who knowingly fakes a pregnancy.
Protagonist Jane Taylor might be described as slightly sociopathic and although that is somewhat akin to describing someone as slightly pregnant, in this case, both are true. Jane, an "inhabitor and cohabitor of that famed female limbo, an Unholy Unmarried" lives with her boyfriend Trevor and has a pregnancy scare. When she turns out to not really be pregnant, Jane decides to keep the information to herself and fake the whole ordeal. She and Trevor will marry and somewhere along the line, she'll get pregnant for real. The best-laid plans, of course, often go astray as when Trevor proves to be a bounder and runs off to a better job in Tokyo. So what's a pseudo-pregnant girl left to do but continue the charade? She has to, of course, because she's acquired a lucrative book deal based on her experience, payable only if she can manage to deceive her family and co-workers for the whole nine yards, er, months.
Part wacky single girl novel, part roman a clef, part pregnancy satire, The Thin Pink Line is clever and at times, wickedly funny. Baratz-Logsted effectively skewers the whole prenatal experience, from all the unsolicited advice and glut of information to the exorbitantly priced, yet shockingly ugly maternity clothes. When you're pregnant, people feel duty bound to deluge you with their personal horror stories. They feel compelled to comment on what you're eating or not eating, all under the guise of the compassion. Baratz-Logsted notes, "Was it any wonder that the modern pregnant woman appeared to glide through the world like a victim of shell shock?..that it was though she lived in a constant state of fear and dread, at war with the elation that people kept telling her she must be feeling--usually the same people who had her worried that she'd precipitated a potential problem by eating a piece of fish without first contacting an environmental protection agency." Jane deals with the mental aspects of pregnancy by committing to memory pertinent parts of "What To Expect While You're Expecting," apparently the bible for British pregos as well as Americans. The physical aspects are a bit problematic. But not to worry, our intrepid/pathological heroine borrows, okay, steals a padded form that women use to try on maternity clothes and thus is able to maintain her illusion.
Baratz-Logsted is definitely aware of the limitations of her chick lit genre and attempts to interject workplace humor into the mix. She writes about writers in an attempt at self-deprecation, but which comes off instead as clunky. "Sometimes it felt as though you could no longer turn around in a bookshop or in an editorial meeting without being confronted with yet another pink-covered book whose pages told about the wacky adventures of yet another twentysomething Londoner who labored in publishing." Since that's just what this novel is, it's an unusual technique. The insights into the publishing world are funny, but no surprise if you've even glanced at The Devil Wears Prada.
Hanging over the whole book is the issue of how Jane will end up in nine months, when she obviously has no baby. Baratz-Logsted sidesteps the whole issue by concocting an ending that is unsatisfying and overly coincidental. Despite this let down, the novel is fast-paced and funny. Anyone who has been pregnant or within twenty feet of a pregnant friend, wife, co-worker, or relative will enjoy the satire. Personally, I wish the next four months would pass as quickly as this book.
- Amazon readers rating: from 31 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
Books for Adults:
- The Thin Pink Line (2003)
- Crossing the Line (2004) *
- A Little Change of Face (2005)
- How Nancy Drew Saved My Life (2006)
- Vertigo (2006)
- Baby Needs A New Pair of Shoes (2008)
- The Bro-Magnet (2011)
- Z (2012)
Books for Teens:
- Angel's Choice (2006)
- Secrets of My Suburban Life (2008)
- Me, In Between (2008)
- Crazy Beautiful (2009)
- The Twin's Daughter (2010)
The Sisters Eight (for kids):
- Annie's Adventures (2008)
- Durinda's Dangers (2008)
- Georgia's Greatness (2009)
- Jackie's Jokes (2009)
- Marcia's Madness (2010)
- Petal's Problems (2010)
- Rebecca's Rashness (2011)
- Zinnia's Zaninness (2011)
- This is Chick Lit (2006)
* The Sequel to The Thin Pink Line
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- Official website for Lauren Baratz-Logsted
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About the Author:
Lauren Baratz-Logsted has worked as a bookseller and buyer for the independent bookstore Klein's of Westport (Connecticut) for eleven years and has written book reviews for Publisher's Weekly. She has worked as a freelance editor on over 100 books. In 1999, having been married for 10 years and having been sure she would never be pregnant, Lauren became pregnant. While home sick the first two months, the thought occurred to her: What if some insane person was making up all of these symptoms the whole pregnancy, even? The Thin Pink Line is her first book.
Lauren lives with her husband and daughter in Danbury, Connecticut.