At my daughter’s school, students are encouraged to find connections between their own life and the stories in the books they read. If I was in the fifth grade, I would get an A for my book report on Finding Colin Firth. Actually, I would get an F for failing to turn it in – I read the book when it came out over a year ago. But never mind that. Let’s talk about the book.
Finding Colin Firth is the story of a nonfiction writer named Gemma who is in a mid-career transition. The title references Waiting for Godot, giving an idea how much “screen time” Colin Firth actually gets in the book. Instead, what we see is three women in a small town who are all in the middle of major life changes. Gemma is ambivalent about becoming a parent; she is focused on a journalistic career, and finds a story in the small town’s home for unwed mothers. The other two women are members of the adoption triad – a grown adoptee and the birth mother she has never met.
The story heavily references Pride and Prejudice; Firth is supposed to be in town for the filming of a new P&P movie, and the story arc of one of the women predictably follows Austen’s outline. Another strong influence is the 2007 movie, Waitress, which I also loved. Like the birth mother in Finding Colin Firth, Waitress‘ reluctant mother (Kerri Russell) was a waitress who baked creatively named pies.
By now it should be obvious why I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of the book. I’d love to have the excuse that its themes of adoption and mid-career crisis hit so close to home that I couldn’t write about it. But that’s not true; I just didn’t get around to it before I forgot that I hadn’t done it. It was only when I logged back in to NetGalley after a long absence that I saw I had not followed through on my promise to review it.
Although I’m not very familiar with the genre, Finding Colin Firth seems like a very good example of chick-lit, which I gather is any commercial fiction written by a woman. In other words, the tone is too light for high literachah and the prose is too well-written for genre fiction.
In Finding Colin Firth the characters were interesting and engaging; their problems were true to life and only a little more easily solved than the ones we escape by reading books with Colin Firth in the title. Although its influences were obvious, they were creatively appropriated.
Finding Colin Firth probably won’t change your life (the book, anyway, I have no idea what the man might do for you) but it probably will please and entertain you.