REVIEW: Upside Down Inside Out by Monica Mcinerney
Dear Mrs. McInerney,
Since it doesn’t look like I’m going to get to Australia any time soon, your book will have to serve as a travelogue of sorts. The Australian Tourism Board can use it as a reason why people should fold themselves into tiny airplane seats for an ungodly number of hours. Screw the koalas, people should read “Upside Down Inside Out” to prime them for a visit Down Under and to watch two nice people fall in love.
When I read the back blurb, I had visions of Aussie Chick Lit which thankfully this book isn’t. One reason I’m getting tired of the traditional CL style is the pratfall laughs. Let’s watch the heroine make a cake of herself preferably in her undies! No, not so much my humor style anymore and not what’s found here. I enjoyed the subtle, gentle humor sprinkled throughout the story. And the fact that both Eva and Joe can take a joke as well as dish one out.
I loved the chance to “see” Dublin, the Irish countryside, Melbourne and South Australia. I take it you’ve had the – ahem – pleasure of both economy and business class travel to and from Australia? I remember the main character in “People of the Book” mentioning that if you’re from Australia, you get used to long haul flights very early in your traveling life! The descriptions of Sydney Harbor, the different ethnic areas of Melbourne, the wide open skies were great. I loved Joe’s comment about what the fairy penguins probably think of all the humans sitting there staring at the ocean, waiting for them. But Eva never got to see a kangaroo!
I liked that you make the point of Eva and Joseph realizing that despite all the lies and exaggerations they told about themselves, basically they did get to know the persons underneath the surface. And who hasn’t gone to a party and had some fun telling whoppers to people you never expect to see again just to make things more interesting? I read a story one time about a woman who lived in DC who, before she went to a dinner party, would randomly pick a profession or job just to note people’s reactions to it. The one she had the most fun with was telling people she’d just gotten home from work carving a gargoyle on the National Cathedral. I also appreciate that you give Joe and Eva plenty of time to get to know each other in their new roles before having Lainey haul out the pink taffeta dress.
I can easily see how Eva would think she could be swallowed up by Lainey’s outgoing exuberance. Such high wattage people are fun to be around but they do tend to overshadow the quieter ones among us. The misunderstanding between Lainey and Eva shows how different the perspective can be on the same event as experienced by two different people and how important communication is. I’m glad that they finally got the air cleared.
Thank you for making Eva and Joseph’s jobs and careers central to them. So often authors pick a background for their characters then barely include it in the story. Eva can tell you all about the quality of the food Joseph picks out for their “picnic” in the hotel, she takes the chance to learn more about sit down restaurant management while working in Greg’s bistro and can confidently suggest items her regular Dublin deli customers might want to try. Joseph “sees” room decor from a design perspective, notes specific improvements that could be made to products and thinks of how to construct things from the ground up.
The way you engineer the changes to Eva and Joseph’s lives fits neatly into the plot without being extreme. Eva can use the opportunity presented by Meg’s damage to the delicatessen to expand it and put her plan for a small bistro into effect. The embezzlement to his company offers Joe a chance to cast off a career that was beginning to strangle him. The change from practical designing to more decorative turns him in the direction of the art school in Dublin. Voila, their paths converge smoothly from events that flow instead of via wrenching changes.
I’m a cat person so I adored Rex the Shiraz tasting kitten! Poor Rex gets his ‘just operated’ self hauled on a whirlwind tour of his homeland, doesn’t he? But…what’s the deal with the cover of the book? Eva has long, straight, dark hair and the cover model has short, blonde curly hair. Having just read some of those disgusting ways restaurant try to save money, I loved Joe’s “implied threat” take down of snotty Greg.
I enjoyed my trip to Ireland and Australia, getting to know Eva and Joe, watching them avoid misunderstandings as they fall in love and am looking forward to watching Lainey find Mr. Cholera in your next book. B for this one.