Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns; Elizabeth Leiknes

This is, I believe, Ms. Leiknes' debut novel published by Bancroft Press out of Charm City (aka Baltimore MD), up the road a bit from Bookwormom Central.Link to author's website in title above. I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review. The flap lists this as romantic comedy, my assessment is that it's paranormal chick lit- a subgenre that's currently selling well & is popular. I like the voice & the pacing & the story is cute and hides its deeper meaning pretty well. I wish Ms. Leiknes much success & future book deals.

The plot is your classic Faustian bargain: as an eleven year old Lucille Burns' older sister is hit by a truck and is hospitalized with a coma. Lucy writes a letter 'to whom it may concern' and promises that if Ellen is ok she will 'be forever in your debt' and put the letter in their magic mailbox. The next morning Ellen is miraculously healed. In the magic mailbox a note appears, "it's a deal..I'll be in touch."

Fast forward nineteen years: Lucy has had to give up her family and forgo personal relationships with men because her job requires her to be on the down low all the time. What is her job? Lucy's a facilitator for the Devil. She's to ensure that evil people get to their final destination. To do this she's given a few paranormal powers, a magic basement that leads to hell, and a type of were-dog that's alternately a normal scruffy mutt and satan's minion. She has inhumanly perky breasts and never breaks out during her period. She can eat lots and lots of chocolate and never gains weight.

For all of the her superficiality and her physical perfection, Lucy is unfulfilled and lonely. Although she's good friends with the earth mother neighbor and her kids next door Lucy misses her sister and really wants a steady man in her life. Kids of her own maybe. None of which are available to her unless she can figure out how to break the contract she made as an eleven year old. The turning point comes when the earth mother neighbor takes Lucy to a concert to see Lucy's favorite easy listening idol perform.

The novel hangs together tightly- which I loved. Sometimes story elements are unevenly treated in shorter novels, but the author avoids that this time around. Ms. Leiknes touches on some deeper themes than your usual genre novel: the disconnectedness of modern life, wish fulfillment vs. personal development, morality, ambiguity, and others. I did have some problems with the narrative, mostly to do with characterization and plot details and the too neat wrap up at the end. Mostly minor, and not enough to stop me dead in my tracks. The story fit well for the length of the book (only 167 pages). The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns is a light quick read- good poolside or beach umbrella reading. Or, if you prefer, it can be a meditation on modern life,moral ambiguity and easy listening lyrics! Enjoy!

Image found on B&N.


Belle Wong said...

This has got such an interesting storyline. It sounds like a nice short read.

Bob & Muffintop said...

I really liked it- fun, enjoyable, unique. Why not give it a try?