Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is the first adult fiction release from novel-in-verse writer Sonya Sones who has previously published four young adult books including What My Mother Doesn't Know. Although I hadn't read any of her YA, I had her positive things about Sones and so I was definitely interested to see how she took on more adult issues, something I haven't seen before in verse which usually seems restricted to YA. The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus tells the story of Holly, a writer approaching her fiftieth birthday who must be at least loosely based on Sones herself. For Holly, dealing with menopause is bad enough, but she's also got an editor breathing down her back, a teenage daughter about to move across the country for university, and a mother who's gone a bit crazy from all the steroids her doctor has been giving her. Plus, Holly's husband Michael is acting a little suspicious and she's alternatively worried about if he might be cheating and whether or not they'll have anything left to talk about once their daughter, Sam, moves out.

As I said, I was pretty surprised by the concept of an adult fiction novel written in verse but Sones definitely manages to pull it off as I quickly breezed through a book of about 430 pages. I'm including one example of a verse in the novel, although it's a bad one since I'm pretty sure it's the only one (or at least one of very few) that ryhmnes, but it's one that makes me laugh a little and shows what's so good about The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, the sense of humour Sones has:

First it burns with desire,
with uncontrolled lust.

You touch each other
and you combust.

But if no one remembers
to stir the embers,

to feed them, poke them,
tend them, stoke them,

the blaze that once sizzled
will sputter and fizzle.

Which is why
I always say:

thank the Lord
for lingerie.
It is probably accurate to call The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus chick lit, but it's chick lit in the best definition of the genre. The novel deals with female issues, particularly the aging married female, in a fun and enjoyable way. The book itself seems to have the same mood swings menopausal Holly suffers from, going from a cheerful to tragic and back again.

One aspect of the novel that was totally lost on me was the title, which matches the name of a poem in the book. Although there is nothing wrong with the poem, The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus, I don't really think it was memorable enough to share the title with the book. I also don't really approve of using a store name in the title, as we don't have Neiman Marcus in Canada and I had no idea what the book was talking about when I first heard it. I assumed it was the name of a character and was waiting to be introduced to this "Neiman". Honestly,  I think the book deserved a better title. The other issue I had with the book is that I didn't particularly enjoy the writer's block story line. The best parts of the book are those that deal with Holly's real human relationships, not her avoidance of work.

Overall, The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is a fun and enjoyable read that certainly deals with "marriage, motherhood and mayhem" but was also surprisingly touching. It was refreshing to read a book that deals so honestly with aging and what it is like when children leave home, but even though I am the still the child and not the mother in that relationship I found a lot to appreciate in the book. The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is an honest and insightful book with a sense of humour about the fact that we may get older, but that doesn't mean we can't get a little wiser too.

Release Date: April 5th, 2011
Pages: 432
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This review was a part of TLC Book Tours. Click here to read what other tour hosts thought. For the purpose of this review I was provided with a copy of the book which did not require a positive review. The opinions expressed in this post are completely my own. 


  1. This is so far outside what I normally read, yet it sounds incredibly entertaining!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  2. "The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus tells the story of Holly, a writer approaching her fifth birthday..."

    I imagine you meant to write "her fiftieth birthday"?

  3. I really liked this book too. :) It was just a surprising to write a book that it made it fun to read.


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