Rich and Pretty is one of the backlog of Book of the Month books that I had on my back list and finally got around to reading. It has a pretty dismal rating, a 2.77 on Goodreads as of the time of this writing, and honestly, I think it's pretty well deserved. Goodreads considers 2 stars an "okay" book and 3 stars a book you "liked," so the majority of people who've read and rated this on Goodreads didn't really enjoy it that much. And it's a pretty bland book, so that sounds about right.
The story is about two women, Sarah and Lauren, as they move into new phases of their lives. They've been friends since age eleven, and now in their early thirties Sarah works at a charity shop and is getting married, and Lauren is trying to get a promotion from her job as assistant editor. They don't see each other much anymore, but when they do they easily fall back into the patterns of their earlier friendship. But at various points, the differences between them are painfully obvious, such as how Sarah is ready to marry after only having like four boyfriends; Lauren isn't looking for anything serious, and it grates on her nerves when Sarah frowns upon her casual sex. The title refers explicitly to Sarah and Lauren; Sarah has always been the rich one, while Lauren has always been the pretty one.
The writing is just okay. While it's a male author writing female main characters, it's not terrible, and terrible is something that I've gotten used to when reading books such as this. However, Sarah and Lauren are apparently always focusing on their "tits," which is not something I've ever encountered in an actual, living, breathing woman--a fascination with breasts is something I've also come to expect of male authors writing female characters, and that's not any different here. Sigh. Sarah, Lauren, and their supporting characters are also just bland. They're not interesting in any way. While each of them could have been fascinating, they're all flat and one-dimensional. Additionally, there's something about the way that Alam writes that just makes me a little nauseous, almost like being seasick; this is something that I also encountered while reading The God of Small Things, and it's not a very pleasant experience. The sentences can be rambling and hard to follow and sometimes have strange constructions, and just have this "wavy" feeling that was...ugh. It makes me feel sick just thinking about it.
So, was it a good book? Not really. With flat characters and no real plot to speak of, it just didn't intrigue. I do like character-driven books, and the characters don't even have to be nice or good--but they do have to be interesting. None of the people here were that, which is unfortunate, and makes it a flop as a character-driven book.
1.5 stars out of 5.