At its heart "How I Learned to Love the Walrus" is a good chick lit book. Sydney Green is a self-absorbed publicist with a "thing" for the wrong man - Blake, an actor who is also her top client. Sydney would do almost anything to help Blake who is only too happy to take advantage when it suits him. A typical chick lit plot would have Sydney's relationship with Blake resolve itself somehow. Blake would see the error of his ways or Mr. Right would somehow step into the breach.
What sets Walrus apart and elevates it beyond just good is that how (or even if) Sydney's relationship problems are resolved isn't the story. Instead Sydney learns life lessons. Maybe she isn't the most important person in the world. Is it possible that by making the world a better place she'll end up a better and happier person herself?
This is a smart, funny, romantic comedy with an unusual setting. All the elements are in place for a fun read - and yet there is quite a lot of depth to the story, too, as Sydney, the main character, develops from being a rather selfish person (though never less than likeable) to a well-rounded, socially-aware young woman.
There are some wonderfully funny set pieces that are reminiscent of the best screwball film comedies - this deserves to be optioned by Hollywood, it would make a very good film.
After reading this I went straight out and bought Romantically Challenged by the same author.
How I Learned to Love the Walrus by Beth Orsoff is a romantic comedy that introduces us to Sydney Green. Sydney happens to be a publicist and will do whatever she has to do to ensure that her clients are happy. So when super hot and charming ex-boyfriend Blake re-enters her life and hires her, she is determined to do whatever she can to not only make him happy, but to rekindle their lost romance. When Blake suddenly gets the crazy idea that he wants to be the face of the Save the Walrus foundation, Sydney does the unthinkable and goes to the Arctic for a month in order to prepare a documentary in which Blake will be the spokesperson. Of course she wasn't prepared for the adventure the events that would occur while surrounded by freezing cold water and blubbery walruses. Ethan is a sexy yet cantankerous scientist who knows all the right buttons to push to bring out the worst in everyone. There is instant friction between Sydney and Ethan, but we soon realize that the fiction has both positive and negative effects on them both. How I Learned to Love the Walrus is a witty and charming read from start to finish. I found the writing style of Ms. Orsoff to be very smooth and intriguing, with imagery that is well described and easily envisioned. How I Learned to Love the Walrus reminds its readers that sometimes it's better to risk losing everything and stand up for what's right instead of trying to ignore the consequences that our actions have on the environment. There is some adult language and suggestive themes so would be better suited for a mature audience.
Girl in the Wild is a romance novel that takes place on Wilde Island off the Alaskan coast. The protagonist, Sydney Green is dispatched by her boss to the island to produce a short documentary on walruses with her client, Hollywood heartthrob, Blake McKinley as the face and voice that will open pockets and hopefully salvage his bad boy reputation. One of the flies in the ointment is her relationship with Blake, to the outside world she's his publicist but behind closed doors the two are rather more intimately involved although I would hesitate to call it love, more like friends with benefits. Of course once she gets to the island and finds out that there's only satelite internet it starts going downhill and the fact that the lead authority on walruses, Ethan is also devilishly handsome and moody has our heroine's head in a whirl. I won't give out any spoilers but it's a classic love triangle that sees her bouncing between two men and trying to shoot a documentary when both men see each other as rivals. I think the LA and Alaskan settings are well researched, I certainly learned a lot about the Arctic and the pressures brought to bear by mining companies and well-intentioned human interference but I think the sheer volume of information can be a bit overwhelming at times. Dan Brown does something similar with his books where he deviates to expound upon a particular work of art or artifact. Orsoff does much the same with the Arctic landscape in particular. It's all good information don't get me wrong, but I'm not sure we want to know that much about walruses for example. We do want to see some fairly plausible character development and a good character arc that sees the cast, for want of a better word, either grow through their shared experiences or crash and burn. Sydney's character arc is well plotted and she shows a depth and strength as she overcomes the primitive situation to produce this video that will draw her closer to Blake. However her choice is men is abysmal, between Blake and Ethan there's not much difference. One's rich and arrogant, the other is poor and arrogant and why she seems to come unstuck whenever she comes up against them baffled me. Likewise the 'forced' kiss where she resists the kiss and then gives in. If I tried that in the real world I'd be up on charges of sexual assault but it is fiction so I'll let it go. Suffice it to say that the two main men are flat and two dimensional cardboard cut outs. There are times I want to see them actually move on and come to some new understanding but then they revert to type and you think why does she bother? Overall it's not a bad book but with a little more attention to character building it could have been much better, the potential is there because as a romance novel it ticks all the right boxes. I've given it four stars. NB I see this book was previously published as How I Learned to Love the Walrus
I'm not normally into romance type novels but this one was a bit different. The "heroine" herself was a slightly comical Bridget Jones character but not so annoying. The "hero" was not run of the mill - at times I didn't warm to him which is unusual for an author to do, as generally the reader always likes the hero. Was a good, light-hearted read, humourous and set in a completely different environment, ie, virtually the arctic wastes, which was interesting and make the novel a bit more quirky. Good escapism with a feelgood factor. Would recommend.
Maybe a bit like the heroine and the title, it took time to appreciate this book. At first I really didn't like Sydney and found it hard to warm to any of the other characters but as she learned to love the walrus, I began to like her more. What might seem to have been quite a light-hearted and frivolous tale actually had a deeper thread running through it. I was pleasantly surprised that, by the end, I really did care what the outcome would be for both Sydney and the walruses.
I enjoyed this book. A typical romance but not all soft and gooey. It was a little slow to start but once I got into it I didn't want to put it down. Alaska sounds a lot more appealing now that I have read this book.