This book is a surprisingly good read, and I do mean surprising. Alizia Tamé is more than just an unreliable narrator--she's unpredictable, which is even more interesting. In most comic fiction, you get a feel for the writer's tone pretty early on and either cotton to it or not, depending on your own sense of humor. Reynolds accomplishes something quite different here. Not only does he use a variety of narrative points-of-view, he also plays with the reader's perspective on Alicia. At first, she seems like a two-dimensional cartoon ripe for parody, yet along the way she deepens to become a sometimes-sympathetic, sometimes-maddening focal point.
Designs for a Happy Home walks a fine line between parody and sincerity, without falling wholly into either camp. It's a light read and a page turner, yet one that never follows an expected formula. For me, that's what made spending time with Alizia a real and unique pleasure.