Editorial note: I received a copy of Romantic Comedy in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld is truly a joy to read. A charming and compelling love story. I adore this book!
After reading several heavy stories in a row, I needed a book like Romantic Comedy! I had a huge smile on my face when I finished it. And then, I went back and reread some sections. Not only that, I reread some parts three times! I really don’t remember the last time I’ve done that.
I appreciate the novels that cover hard topics and this happens quite often in literary fiction. But sometimes, I really need a break from those type of stories. This is where Romantic Comedy fits right in. While it still covers relevant and real topics—appearances, confidence, dynamics between celebrities and non-celebrities, it’s also a lovely romance.
Curtis Sittenfeld is quickly becoming one of my go-to authors. I also so enjoyed Rodham but I think Romantic Comedy might be my new favorite of hers.
What’s the Story About
The story partly takes place in a fictional version of Saturday Night Live—in this case, called The Night Owls. We follow sketch writer Sally Milz as the team gets ready to put on another show for the week. Sally is quick-witted, intelligent and self-deprecating.
Her romantic life has been lackluster up this point—a quiet divorce and a string of unmemorable hookups. So she focuses on her job, her friends and close relationship with her stepfather.
But it’s hard not to notice how her follow male writers are starting to date and even marry the gorgeous and successful actresses, singers and models who appear as hosts for The Night Owls. She decides to channel her annoyance in the best way she knows how—turn it into a sketch.
Named after her coworker, the Danny Horst Rule is poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman. However, everything changes, when Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation, signs on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show.
Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder if there might actually be sparks flying. Could she be experiencing her own romantic comedy?
I’ve read several interviews with the author Curtis Sittenfeld talking about inspiration for the book. She’s a huge Saturday Night Live fan and observed how many of the SNL male cast members end up with beautiful and successful famous women. She thought it would be an interesting take if this concept is gender switched and that is how Romantic Comedy was born.
The beginning of novel does take place in the SNL-like environment. It appears Curtis definitely did her research, even Reese Witherspoon remarked that she nailed exactly what the experience is like.
I will say, I’m not the biggest SNL fan. Of course, I’ve seen it, including the big viral clips, but I’m not a regular viewer of it. So while I definitely appreciated the research and such, I wasn’t as invested in the actual process of making the show as I anticipated. Because of that, it was a little bit of a slow start for me.
However, I sure did adore the love story between Sally and Noah. And once the two start working together, the story really takes off.
After reading this story, I have decided I need to add more romances to my TBR. I kind of throw them in with thrillers—I’m pretty picky on the ones I read. I think when done well, they’re fantastic. But sometimes I feel there is so much pressure to get stories out quickly, that the narrative doesn’t always fit together like I want.
Yes, the couple will end up together but what are the key obstacles, what is their journey, what’s holding them back, etc. If those questions aren’t answered, I do think the story is not as strong.
However, there is nothing like reading a well-written and complete story that features a romance. These are the stories that not only stick with you but you actually want to reread. As much as I love literary fiction, I don’t usually want to reread those stories as they can be so heavy. So more romance, please!
Sally and Noah’s relationship is absolutely believable and utterly charming. It’s not a fantasy take, you truly could see these people get together in real life. The author laid the groundwork and I imagined them as real people.
And she nailed so much about what it’s like as a woman. You have these male coworkers putting no effort into their looks and getting with these women seemingly out of their league. While Sally still feels a lot pressure to look “good.”
While she absolutely feels the spark with Noah, she’s also completely imitiated and insecure, which is a totally natural reaction. And I truly feel most women have those feelings from time to time. There’s so much pressure on women. We shouldn’t look like we aged, we need to eat burgers and drink beer all the time but still be a size 2, you know, the list goes on and on.
What I did quite enjoy that despite it all, Sally remains who she is and that’s exactly who Noah falls in love with. And she offers so much to Noah that he feels she’s out of his league too.
I loved this story. Again, a tad bit slow start just because I’m not huge SNL fan. I bring that up just incase you’re like me about it because I don’t want that to deter you! And on the flip side, if you’re a big SNL fan, you’ll love those parts.
It’s the type of story that I’m so glad I read but I’m also sad I can’t relive the experience of reading it for the first time again. It’s fantastic. A special novel and I highly recommend it.
For book clubs, check out my discussion questions here.