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Bitter Is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or, Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Paperback – 7 Mar 2006

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: New American Library (7 Mar. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451217608
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451217608
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 539,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Jen Lancaster is the author of "Bitter is the New Black." She has lived in Chicago for ten years with her husband and pets, and has yet to get the hang of the subway or returning library books in a timely manner. Visit

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Jen Lancaster writes about her high-flying job, the loss thereof and subsequently the trials and tribulations suffered and overcome. It is entertaining, honest and sometimes funny. She openly mentions having read and admired 'Dreamworld of a Shopaholic' and in places one feels has tried to take a bit of its sparkle for her own work, too. I don't feel this book deserves quite as much praise as the hype in the US would have you believe, but it is a good read nevertheless. Plus it is quite refreshing to read a young woman write a memoir which does not have the pursuit of a man as it's centre point. ;-)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Shame about the content. You can tell that Jen Lancaster has been faithful to her experiences, but real life just ain't that interesting. This is supposed to be a riches to rags story, but if I'd take this girls kinda hardship any day! Ultimately she's got a great boyfriend (who becomes her husband), great (financially) supportive parents and she's unemployed for a bit. Oh and then she gets a book deal. She also thinks she's funnier than she is. Loved the opening pages, would get you to buy the book, so does she really give a toss about the rest?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars 655 reviews
105 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Shopaholic's Evil Twin 5 Sept. 2006
By Kara J. Jorges - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the story of the downfall and subsequent growing up of a spoiled brat. Jen Lancaster is a vice president at Corp. Com., working insane hours and bringing home an insanely huge paycheck for it. She and her devoted boyfriend Fletch live in an uber-trendy loft in an "it" neighborhood in Chicago, unconcerned about paying through the nose for rent since they both bring home fat paychecks. Jen has a very expensive salon habit and an even more expensive shopping habit, and one of the reasons she has held off marrying Fletch is that he can't afford the size rock she wants.

It all comes crashing down one day when Jen gets downsized. It's a tough economy, and in the 22 months it takes to land a new job, she learns about not taking anything for granted. When Fletch also gets laid off, they get perilously close to having to move in with her parents, and she starts to examine her silly spending habits.

Jen is a selfish, unsympathetic character who can be downright mean, but I have to admit she's funny, and while I wouldn't actually say the things she says to people, I was right there with her on her train of thought. There were times I wondered why Fletch stood by her, but mostly I just want to know where to find a guy like him. He weathers her constant tantrums without batting an eye, and when times got really tough, I admired Jen and Fletch's ability to stick together and support one another.

What I really liked about this novel was that though Jen had to learn some hard lessons and rearrange her priorities, the experience didn't change who she was inside. Though she learned not to blow wads of money on senseless things, and learned some respect for menial jobs, she didn't lose her mean streak. I also had to admire her ability to keep fighting, uncowed, even when things seemed impossible.

Though I'm uncertain whether I'd like her in person, Jen is amusing on the page. For an inside look at the downward spiral of an annoying, self-serving princess, this book does a nice job.
111 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, Witty and Tons of Fun! 8 May 2006
By Marion - Published on
Format: Paperback
My best friend, Sonja, (bless her generous heart) gave me this book after she read it and highly recommended it. I have to say it was even funnier than she said it was.

Jen (NOT JENNY) is one of the most loveable, egocentric, witty characters I have ever read about. The fact that it's a memoir is even better! She cusses a blue streak and comes up with awesome one-liners. When she called herself, "Carbohydate Barbie" I cracked up and could totally relate. Jen loses her high paying corporate job and must (gasp) even sell her Kate Spade shoes on Ebay before all is said and done. Her man, Fletch, is a baby doll and true blue friend. The account of their wedding in Las Vegas (where, unfortunately a porn convention was being held at the same time) was my favorite part.

If you're tired of the same old chick lit [...], get this refreshing book. Jen is an inspiring, creative survivor. I look forward to more books from her.
46 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Someone owes David Sedaris an apology 16 Aug. 2007
By A. Kennedy - Published on
Format: Paperback
Part of the reason I picked up this book was a quippy little review that said: "Jen Lancaster is like David Sedaris with pearls and a supercute handbag." Usually I try to avoid purchasing decisions based on marketing ploys that follow the line of 'if you like X, you'll love Z', but I AM a Sedaris lover, and I WAS in the mood for a laugh-out-loud funny read, and to that end Mr. Sedaris has never disappointed. But someone owes Mr. Sedaris an apology. The comparison is so far off-base, I think I would have rather spent the afternoon reading 200+ pages of Mr. Sedaris' thoughts ABOUT pearls and handbags, rather than Bitter is the New Black. Most of the major flaws of the book and the writing style have already been covered by other reviewers. Yes, Jen Lancaster is not nearly as amusing, witty, or clever as she thinks she is. Much of what we're supposed to consider humorous seems simply to be re-worked jokes and tired stereotypes we've all seen and heard before. Has this narrator really changed by the end of the book? Where are the moments of introspection, of realization that make us understand she's changed? The moments of true regret that finally win us over to her side, make us actually like and root for her, make us forget how jaw-grindingly irritating she is in the beginning? She never seems to dig deep enough, never goes beyond the obvious, never reveals enough of herself, or shares her true vulnerability with the reader to redeem herself, and thus, we don't really care all that much about her and instead tend to simply agree with the blurb on the book's cover: The [...] had it coming. Indeed.

She begins, for a few scant pages at the very end, to share the true source of her misguided materialism and and to show us the insecure girl from Indiana, but as soon as she touches on something real or tender, the book is over. We can all see through the bombastic personality and hipper-than-thou superiority from the beginning and recognize it right away for what it is: deep seeded insecurity and fear. The only problem is that Jen never QUITE admits it out loud, to us, her reader, and we're left wondering if everyone knows it but her.

What simultaneously disappoints and infuriates me is the sheer lack of polish and skill on these pages. Relying on cutesy 'footnotes', reprints of emails and weblog submissions seems to indicate a laziness on the part of the author, or more likely, a lack of confidence and undeveloped skill. She ardently professes her desire to "be a writer" and yet throughout the book I find myself thinking: then work on your craft! Where is the editor? Who let her publish this material in this form? This is the fifth sentence in this chapter that isn't even gramatically correct.' Some make the arguement that because it's "memoir" and not "fiction" the author is allowed free reign to write how she pleases. There are plenty of well-crafted memoirs that showcase beautiful prose, accomplished storytelling,and impeccable form, and are stitched together with threads so fine you never see the writer's handiwork at all.

Instead, this is another case of a would-be writer throwing together some thoughts, cocktail party chatter, mildly interesting anecdotes, a couple of blog posts, and assembling it under the guise of a book. You can practially see Ms.Lancaster furiously pecking away at her laptop in a rush to get her manuscript to her publisher, all the while wondering "who will play me in the movie?"

And to the protesters who argue, "But this is Chic-lit. It's supposed to be light, fluffy, and mindless," I agree, there's nothing like an enjoyable piece of fluff. And the best kind of fluff is good, strong story-telling at its finest. I'm so tired of picking up books lately, expecting a good read only to get 250 pages of bad, unskilled writing by "writers" who don't even seem to respect their reader enough to work hard at perfecting their craft. Blurting out your inner-thoughts and throwing them down on the page does not make you interesting, witty, deep, and least of all, it doesn't make you a writer. Please, you seem like you might actually have something to say. Work hard at improving your storytelling, because after another book or two, this one-note song will be over.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A minor redemption story 4 Jun. 2012
By Nathaniel - Published on
Format: Paperback
I spent the better part of this book hating Jen Lancaster. Excluding the few times that the story was actually funny or charming (see: scheduling wedding during Porn Expo) she is rampantly narcissistic, selfish, unrealistic, classist, and not-so-implicitly racist. Now, you could say "well look at the title! she admits she's egomaniacal, etc." Yeah, but it's not charming or self-deprecating humor. It's grating. You sort of expect a redemption story out of this based on the title, and we kind of get there, but not really. Things get better, as does she, but the severe lack of self-reflection (other than "why did I buy so many purses?!?!") keeps this from being the charming fall-from-grace story it could be. She's still possesses all of those terrible qualities by the end of the book, but they're muted by her inability to express them through spending power.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unlikeably, relentlessly vicious 25 July 2014
By ixony - Published on
Format: Paperback
While I moderately enjoyed the Tao of Martha, I found this book atrocious. Our narrator here is relentlessly arrogant, judgmental, shallow and so nasty as to be thoroughly unlikable.

All the "traumas" she whines about incessantly in this book involve things like having to cut back on thousand dollar handbags and designer sofas. I didn't burn through much kleenex.

I am not sure why such whiny self-indulgent nastiness was published, unless it is as a warning against self-delusion.

Our narrator finds herself fabulous in every way, at all times (as she constantly reminds us). When, as an overweight person, she has to pick up something for a friend at a fitness club (as a favor to a good friend who has done many for her over the years, yet she has to be strong-armed into doing this one little thing in return and claims that now they're even), she looks down on all the slim/fit people training the club from the greatest height and has nothing but mean-spirited criticism for them. When she is turned down for a job because the prospective employer finds that on her blog she has been writing that all their clients "suck", she gets angry at the employer for their lack of humor and professionalism. Everything rolls off her: she is always brilliant and right, everyone else is always wrong and stupid.

I think the other reason that I really disliked her is that she was incapable of kindness or compassion. When she watches a construction worker on fire, she laughs out loud because she can see his bald spot. I lost any last vestige of sympathy for her at that point.

I kept hoping that she would learn something and grow as a person -- the point of a book like this, perhaps? -- but no, at the end of the book she still had no more self-awareness, perspective or depth and no less arrogant viciousness than she started out with, and she remained every bit as shallow.

It's no mystery why no one will hire her. The only mystery is why Fletch is with her, but we are told he was raised by an abusive father so perhaps nastiness is normal to him and people gravitate to the familiar. Poor him. He certainly deserves better.

So do we readers.
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