Review

Cosmopolitan Girls

by Charlotte Burley and Lyah Beth LeFlore

Lindsay and Charlie form a friendship in this novel about beautiful, ambitious African American single women. Both are from small towns but are now living in New York City. Each is lonely, with an unsatisfying romantic relationship. Lindsay is discovering she has less and less in common with her long-term group of female friends. Charlie's only real friend is Kyle, a gay coworker.

Lindsay is in love with Troy, who quit calling her after she told him that she loved him. She is a workaholic on the fast track, hoping to eventually become the first black female president of a television network. Although her leisure time is all about being seen at the hottest spots in the coolest clothes, she has recently become concerned about her younger sister's health problems.

Charlie lives with her fiance, Michael, and attempts to find her role with his two children, who live with them part-time. Charlie frantically plans their wedding, although she suspects he's cheating on her. She also yearns to break through her writer's block and pen a successful screenplay.

The two women meet halfway through the book. As Lindsay and Charlie confide in each other, they recognize the beginning of a true comradeship. They agree to meet once a week to drink Cosmopolitans and to console and inspire each other. But first they resolve to get a little revenge on their wandering men.

Short chapters and alternating viewpoints make for a fast read. I found the two narrators to be witty and funny. However, I didn't think they were sympathetic characters. Throughout the book I couldn't help wondering, "How far would any halfway intelligent woman go to keep an obviously straying mate?" Let me count the ways in this book: continue to plan a wedding with him, have unsafe sex with him, not confront him when another woman repeatedly calls for him … and on and on.

The next question I had was, "How much time and energy would a smart woman waste on revenge against a straying mate?" Copious amounts, according to these characters who: place humiliating ads in the personals column (complete with his name, telephone number and photo), get drunk and sleep with his friends, have his phone service eliminated, run up debt on his credit card, sleep with despicable men so word will get around, etc. The women together wise up in the end, but to me it felt like much too little way too late.

Some potentially interesting situations introduced in the book were not fully explored, leaving me unsatisfied. For example, I wanted to hear more about Charlie and Lindsay's careers and families (particularly Lindsay's sick sister and Michael's children). After an intriguingly detailed description of Lindsay's boss, Robert, I hoped fruitlessly for a fully realized male character. Female characters came to life in the narration, but with the exception of two sympathetic gay characters, the book's males are disappointingly depicted as two-timing rat-scum stereotypes with nothing to redeem them.

Although I couldn't relate to the main characters and wished for more realism, I enjoyed the celebration of friendship and the humorous commentary. I suspect these authors' next collaboration will be worth watching for.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon(terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 21, 2011

Cosmopolitan Girls
by Charlotte Burley and Lyah Beth LeFlore

  • Publication Date: February 24, 2004
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway
  • ISBN-10: 0767915674
  • ISBN-13: 9780767915670