Love in the Time of Taffeta

As you guys may have read last month, my book club, Flips Flipping Pages, kicked off the Christmas festivities with our very own [bloody] prom, a totally fabulous prom night that made up for all the bad prom nights we had, or, for some people, the ones they missed going to.

Around that time, I wanted to read something prom-themed, so I picked up a copy of Love in the Time of Taffeta by Eugenie Olson, which the cover promised to be “a moving story of prom, bad behavior, and sequins.”

I have to admit I picked it up at the bargain book store because of the retro chic cover, and it was buried under my heaping TBR until I needed an O author for the A-Z Challenge.

Love in the Time of Taffeta features Iley Gilbert, a 30-something photographer who just stormed out of her dead-end job at a framing gallery (she chuck a frame at her unreasonable boss!). In need of a new job, and preferably one that makes use of her photography skills, Iley lands a job as a photographer’s assistant for the prom season.

Iley expects an old fuddy-duddy, but is flabbergasted to see that her new boss, William, is well, smoking hot. And he appears to be attracted to her too, except that there’s a wedding ring on his left hand and a wife that’s out of town four days a week! Iley and William go prom-hopping (and then some…) and to complicate matters, Iley meets Thomas, the slightly dorky but cute private school history teacher and who is eager to get to know her better.

No prizes for guessing what happens afterwards, as we all know the drill: Iley keeps making mistake after big mistake, while we wait for her to get a mighty fine reality check and get her back life on track.

The hit-and-miss factor is a big reason why I don’t read a lot of chick lit these days, and I would have to categorize this book as a miss.

I found Iley difficult to like, which is problematic for a chick lit novel.

Iley’s “lost” act is quite unbelievable for a 31-year old (maybe for a fresh grad) and I wanted to shake some sense into her for about three quarters of the book. And when the supposed character redemption comes (and it takes a wayward sixteen-year old to make Iley see the error of her ways) it falls short of making up for all the frustration that she’s managed to extract from you up until that moment.

The photography part also doesn’t quite ring true for me; I couldn’t feel Iley’s passion for photography, and the book doesn’t talk much about her supposed craft, and yet she gets a big career boost at the end of the novel. I mean, really, it appears to be more a case of getting wildly lucky than having her hard work finally pay off, and I think if I were a photographer I’d take offense at that bit.

It’s a messy bundle of issues and there’s very little humor in the novel that it doesn’t even work as a nice and fluffy read. And it’s quite thick too, and I was waiting for a redeeming factor in the novel but even as Iley’s life falls into place I couldn’t muster any affection for the book.

The worst part is that the nifty cover, and the title for that matter, are wasted on this book — both have very little to do with the story, as if they were pertaining to another book altogether! I often judge a book by a cover but I don’t remember being so sorely disappointed with anything I’ve bought because of the cover as I was with this. Bleagh.


Love in the Time of Taffeta, trade paperback, 1/5 stars

Book #180 for 2010

O for the A-Z Challenge

top photo courtesy of


2 thoughts on “Love in the Time of Taffeta”

  1. Just another example of beauty being skin deep! I love the cover – it’s a vintage Vogue cover, restyled. Same font and everything. And the dress is just lovely.

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