Delilah Darling will be the first person to admit it: she’s easy. After reading an article that says the average person has 10.5 sexual partners in their lifetime, Delilah freaks out when she realizes she’s dangerously close to twice that number. She resolves to cap “her number” at 20 – but then has a drunken one-night stand with her repulsive boss, who had just fired her. Delilah is determined not to go over 20, but she also knows she’s not meant for a life of celibacy. So she does the only logical thing: she sets out to find all her ex-boyfriends, convinced that one of them is really “the one.” With help from her sexy Irish neighbor, Delilah’s wild journey through her past just might prove that when you accept yourself as you are, numbers don’t matter.
Karyn Bosnak’s debut novel, 20 Times a Lady, is laugh-aloud hilarious, heartfelt and just plain fun. Told in Delilah’s first-person voice, readers are instantly drawn into her crazy, tangent and footnote-filled head. It had a bit of the same feel as Bridget Jones’ Diary and even though it is most definitely “chick lit,” it’s unabashedly chick lit. 20 Times a Lady isn’t trying to win the Pulitzer or National Book Award; it’s trying to entertain and it succeeds.
Though the plot is fairly predictable from early in the novel, I never minded because Delilah is so fabulously outrageous. There were so many times when I could relate precisely to what she was thinking and feeling (I, too, have a deep and abiding love for tangents and footnotes). And all the other times, I was simultaneously laughing and cringing at the lengths she went to do rediscover her ex-boyfriends. I mean, who hasn’t secretly dreamed about
stalking looking up old boyfriends and seeing what’s become of them? Most of all, I really liked Bosnak’s subtle underlying message: the number really doesn’t matter if you can be happy with who you are, not some imagined future version you could be. Loving yourself – flaws and all – is probably one of the hardest things to do, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.
If any of this is sounding familiar, you may have encountered the film adaptation of 20 Times a Lady. The movie version, under the title What’s Your Number?, was released in September 2011 and stars Anna Faris and Chris Evans. I actually saw the movie first, then realized it had been based on a novel. Like the book, the movie is a fun, lighthearted way to kill a couple of hours. It didn’t win any awards, but I like Anna Faris’ comedic performances and Chris Evans is pretty-man eye candy.
20 Times a Lady isn’t going to solve the world’s problems, make Jonathan Franzen quake in his overpriced designer eyeglasses or be remembered as the Pride and Prejudice of it’s time. That’s okay. Karyn Bosnak’s novel is fun and sometimes, that’s exactly what a reader wants and needs. If you’re looking for a quick read to take to the beach or on vacation, you could do a lot worse than 20 Times a Lady.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]