Laura Rider’s Masterpiece Review
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Laura Rider has a secret—one that not even her husband, Charlie, knows. Though she has a way with plants—and she and Charlie have built a successful nursery business—she secretly dreams of being a romance author.

As she thinks about the book that she’d like to write, Laura begins to think about the meaning of true romance. What, she wonders, does a real, modern woman—like their small Wisconsin town’s biggest star, syndicated public radio host Jenna Faroli—really want? Jenna seems so intelligent…so worldly…so perfect. And Laura believes that she can learn from such a fascinating woman.

When Charlie runs into Jenna one afternoon—and the two exchange email addresses—Laura sees it as the perfect research for her great romance novel. So she helps her husband compose emails to Jenna, carefully crafting the perfect man—and the perfect romance. But, before long, Laura’s little experiment gets out of hand, and it changes the lives of all three of them—hero, heroine, and author—forever.

For anyone who’s ever tried to craft a story—or anyone who’s ever gotten caught up in a fictional romance, for that matter—Laura Rider’s Masterpiece is an fascinatingly imaginative little study in storytelling and character development. But it’s more than just a story about writing a story; it’s also a story about how messy and irrational love can be—and how quickly it can fly out of control.

This isn’t exactly a comfortable read, though. As you might expect, the main character isn’t exactly likeable. In fact, she’s often shockingly selfish. Laura toys with others’ lives for the sake of her “art,” which tends to make for an awkward read. Despite her love for her husband and her admiration for Jenna, she seems completely oblivious to both of their feelings as she uses them to craft her “fictional” romance. Her behavior will sometimes make you cringe—and you’ll want to grab her by the shoulders and shake some sense into her. And while you’ll feel sorry for poor Charlie and Jenna, even they end up feeling like mindless pawns.

Still, Hamilton will somehow keep you reading anyway—because, despite the cluelessly callous main character, Laura Rider’s Masterpiece is a captivatingly quirky read. The writing is thoughtful and often witty, and the story is truly, strangely original. You’ll have to keep going—just to see how (or if) it all works out in the end.

This isn’t your typical work of chick lit. It’s more cerebral (and even perplexing) than the usual formulaic fluff—which could be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your mood. It’s a quick but challenging read that will both fascinate you and frustrate you. So if you’re looking for a simple boy-meets-girl story with a nice, happy ending, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for something different, this strange little story will leave you with something to think about.

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