Queen of Babble and Queen of Babble in the Big City
Written by Meg Cabot
Published by William Morrow
Meg Cabot, the bestselling author of the Princess Diaries series, has recently released her latest book, Queen of Babble in the Big City, a sequel to her 2006 novel Queen of Babble. It should come as no surprise that both of these novels fall under the "chick lit" category; in fact, if you look up the definition of "chick lit," I wouldn't be surprised if you found a picture of these books.
The books follow Lizzie Nichols (the so-called "queen of babble"), a recent college graduate with a degree in the history of fashion, as she travels through Europe and New York looking for love and employment. In the first book, Lizzie finds herself in France at the beautiful Château Mirac with the even more beautiful Luke, the château owner's son. Here, Lizzie struggles to overcome a failed relationship and define her feelings for Luke, while trying to keep her mouth out of trouble.
The second novel continues right where the last one left off. Now, Lizzie finds herself in New York as she faces not only relationship problems but employment problems as well — it turns out a history of fashion major is not in high demand. Again, she must work her way through life while attempting to control her unruly mouth.
Let's be honest. These books are not going to become great literary masterpieces. And I'm pretty sure that no male would ever read these (unless maybe they're trying to pick up tips from the perfect Luke). However, Cabot has successfully accomplished what she set out to do: write entertaining and funny romance novels. Lizzie is a great protagonist that you just can't help but love, and she has enough quirks and flaws to make you see pieces of yourself and everyone else you know in her.
In addition, Luke might just be the perfect guy (at least in the first book); he's charming, attractive, funny, caring, and he will some day own his own vineyard/château in France. Sure, he is not a particularly well developed character, and the other supporting characters are even more two-dimensional, but in a book like this, that doesn't even matter. These are meant to be fast-paced, plot-driven beach reads that are great when you want to know that everything will work out in the end. And these novels are certainly quick reads; you can easily read both of the 300-plus-page works in a single weekend.
Besides the obvious lack of character development, my biggest problem with this book is actually the title. Sure, Lizzie blurts out things that end up getting her into trouble, but I wouldn't call her the queen of babble. Most of these outbursts come all at once, as opposed to a steady stream like the title suggests. And I am pretty sure that most people in real life say far more ridiculous things far more often. However, her sporadic lack of control over her mouth does make her more realistic, and it always provides a conflict for the story.
All in all, these are great books if you judge them for what they are — idealized (seriously, I haven't met many gorgeous château owners on a train), predictable, romance novels. They will not expand your mind or make you look at situation differently (OK, maybe you'll look a little closer at the people on the train). If you're looking for literature, try Austen or Elliot, but if you just want a story full of hope to read at the beach or on a rainy day, pick these books up, and you won't be able to put them down.