Review: “Romantic Comedy”

Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel “Romantic Comedy” is a fine, fizzy love story.

A coming together of two unlikely leads - Sally Milz, a snarky but loveable late-thirties television writer and Noah Brewster, an aging but loveable late-thirties pop star.

The twist is that Sally is plain and unknown while Noah is devastatingly handsome, famous and rich. Oh, and sober and considerate and kind and thoughtful. And no, doesn’t only date models.

An impossible love? What else would you expect from a novel that is a beat-perfect-rendition of every rom-com you’ve ever seen?

Milz is the everywoman sketch writer for a weekly live comedy television called “The Night Owls” and modelled on “Saturday Night Live” down to a comedy impresario par excellence that walks and talks and dry-jokes just like Michael Lorne.

The opening third of the novel is the set up as we follow a week in the life of the show where Brewster is the celebrity host and musical guest while Milz writes, prepares, polishes, scraps, reboots and refines sketches. It’s very meta in a wholesome all-American mid-west kind of way. There’s more than a few laugh-out bits. It’s a comedy after all.

The middle third of the novel is the flurry of emails to and fro during the coronavirus pandemic that complicates while simultaneously raises the love stakes between Milz who feels undeserving and Brewster who feels the exact opposite. Yes, this is the romantic bit.

The final third of the novel amps up the tension (as it should) and the tropes as it zig and zags through the relationship being in jeopardy, the lightbulb moment, the grand gesture and - of course - the happy ending.

Also there a private jets.

And scatological quips.

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