Queen of Babble in the Big City

Meg Cabot
2007, Chick Lit
HarperCollins, $22.95, 307 pages, Amazon ASIN 0060852003
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Subtle

For me, Meg Cabot is a compulsively, addictively readable author. I can't seem to resist her books, whatever genre they are, whatever audience they are written for. Fortunately, she writes at a steady pace so there is always something new from her on the shelf. Queen of Babble in the Big City is the newest installment of her Lizzie Nichols trilogy, a series about a vintage fashion-obsessed would-be wedding dress designer who can't seem to keep her mouth closed.

In the first book of this series, Queen of Babble, Lizzie wound up more or less stranded in France at the chateau of a modern day prince and, after a series of small classic Cabot heroine blunders, saved the day for a bridezilla whose wedding was being held there and whose wedding dress was a disaster (pre-Lizzie). In the process, Lizzie nabbed a rich, gorgeous, charming guy, Luke, and talked him into coming back to New York City with her.

Queen of Babble in the Big City opens with both Luke and Lizzie establishing themselves, Luke finishing up some pre-med coursework and Lizzie looking for a job, any job, in the fashion industry. Luke's mother has an apartment in the city and it's not long before Luke invites Lizzie to live with him. Lizzie is certain this is the start of their Happily Ever After and, if she plays it right, wedding bells will soon be ringing – both for her future clients and for Lizzie herself. But, as Lizzie's old friends Shari and Chaz warn her, it is wiser not to count chickens before they actually peck their ways out of their shells…or buy engagement rings.

What's interesting about this book is how different it is from the first one, and yet not. Lizzie is the same, of course – optimistic, hardworking, generous, and trusting - and as in book one, she does see results when she puts in the effort. But things in France went much more smoothly, much more romantically, for her. The chateau was as lovely and fairytale-like as her budding relationship with Luke. In New York City the champagne-colored glow is gone. Luke is still brilliant and cool. He seems perfectly happy to be her lover and live-in boyfriend…but that's it. He doesn't sense she might want more and he seems bewildered at her ideas for her career as a wedding dress designer/renovator.

Lizzie also has to deal with changes in her friendships. Shari and Chaz act differently than they did the previous summer in France, and the changes in their relationship affect Lizzie as well. The reader can see some of this coming long before Lizzie ever does. She's as typically clueless about other people's feelings as any Cabot heroine (and just as endearing).

The reader's enjoyment of this book will depend on how she reacts to the "rules" of Lizzie's life changing without warning. Queen of Babble could have been a stand-alone novel, and after reading this one, some may wish they had stopped reading when everything was still "perfect" for Lizzie and Luke. Other readers will be happy to follow Lizzie's further adventures and won't mind seeing the chaos of post-college life portrayed a bit more realistically on these pages. It is after all pretty typical for young people just out of college to make interesting decisions, to waffle about careers, to change lovers or friends.

I enjoyed Queen of Babble in the Big City somewhat more than the first book for that reason, and I look forward to learning how the big cliffhanger Cabot finishes off the book with resolves itself in Queen of Babble Gets Hitched which will be out this summer. Happily I won't have to wait too long to be my next Meg Cabot fiction fix.

-- Rachel Potter

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