Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81784-5
Contemporary Romance, 2002
Ah, small town romance, stories in which we women must abandon our materialistic New York/Washington/Sin City evil roots and embrace the hoi polloi lifestyles of Hicksville. Elaine Fox’s Man at Work takes such a big, broad, and completely off-key swipe at evil capitalists that this novel reads like a bad liberal tract done by overenthusiastic college kids about evil Republican men that look just like Dabney Coleman with uglier mustache.
Marcy Pugnosedugalaga – okay, Paglinowski – is a lawyer. In romance novel style, her lawyer skills are best suited as a short-skirted ornament in a courthouse. Her firm is hired to sue a construction firm for negligence, and as Marcy investigates the scene, her first priority is to save a puppy from being mistreated by the evil site foreman. So full up with heroism is our heroine that instead of calling the SPCA, she decides to break into the site at night to steal, er, rescue the puppy.
She gets into trouble, naturally, and our liberal swami, Truman Fleming, tries to help her and loses his job in the process. Meanwhile, the Evil Republican Firm sends people to create trouble for Marcy, and Mr Liberal Swami here has to save her as he delivers a long, preachy lecture about the evils of capitalism, ambition, and career. Marcy is made to apologize for (a) wanting to marry a man with money and stability, (b) wanting to be made partner in her firm, and (c) putting off motherhood. Yeah, she is so wrong to not want to marry our Liberal Swami who lives like a more literate Silent Bob minus the marijuana stash.
Then the author decides to make the Liberal Swami the son of a rich and powerful senator. So if Swami here is in trouble, the millions in his bank account is just a withdrawal away. Nice. It must be great to be able to make lots of hammy preachy nonsense about the evils of money when one has a few million bucks stashed away for emergency use (such as for latte and frappuccino at Starbucks, perhaps, or a nice month-long honeymoon to Tahiti).
Preachy and anti-capitalism? Definitely. Liberal? I don’t know any liberals who advocate motherhood and wifery over female independence. Confused then? Probably. And sincere?
Hmm, if Elaine Fox married a Liberal Swami and is now living in bliss in an underfunded trailer, uncaring about the evil tenets of Capitalism and Laissez Faire, yes, then I’ll buy the ridiculous philosophy in this book. As it is, with ridiculous caricature characters, bad attempts at being “cute”, and bizarre dogma, Man at Work is just whacked.