Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot


Of wagging tongues, wedding gowns, and dreams of prince charming.

My thoughts

If you cringe at chick lit, beware!

Meg Cabot has a special place in my heart because I absolutely loved The Princess Diaries (yes, the movie with Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. I have yet to read all the books). The Princess Diaries simply captures the angst of teenagers perfectly while putting a fairy-tale spin to things ... after all, don't we all have that secret childhood dream of being a princess?

Aside: Chick lit is a recently discovered guilty pleasure. About two years ago, I never even knew of the chick lit genre.  I admit that I probably had that chick lit gene when I got hooked on Sweet Dreams novels way back in high school. Gah, all that borrowing and furtive reading in class! It was also the first time I came across someone who lent her books on the condition that you read the book half open only, lest the spine get creased (God forbid!). Anyway, chick lit is my drug of choice after reading heavy and challenging literature. Along with the book, I usually have a chocolate bar or ice cream on the side, and is best sped-read. Bam, a book in a night. Moving on.

The Queen of Babble series consists of three books: Queen of BabbleQueen of Babble in the Big City and Queen of Babble Gets Hitched. The Queen is our cute and quirky Lizzie Nichols, a new fashion history graduate and a lover of vintage fashion whose taste in fashion is traditional as her love for romance.

The books in one sentence each:
  • Queen of Babble: Lizzie's planned vacation with her British boyfriend goes awry and she escapes to France to help out with a wedding, unwittingly finding someone much much more interesting.
  • Queen of Babble in the Big City: Lizzie moves to New York to fulfill her dream of becoming a wedding gown restorer, and eventually her heart is torn between her Prince Charming and her best male friend.
  • Queen of Babble Gets Hitched: Lizzie finally marries the man she loves after much second-guessing herself. 
***

This is chick lit so there is nothing earth-shatteringly new about the plot: it has the fairytale-ish ugly duckling girl who falls in love with Prince Charming formula. In this case it is Lizzie who is our ugly duckling, who in the first book, sheds her baby fat and blossoms into someone pretty cool.

Her hobby figures throughout the novels, an obsession for vintage clothing and a sewing prowess which makes for her unique wardrobe. In fact, the series is interspersed with vintage fashion nuggets (first book) and wedding dress sketches and advice (books 2-3) which I found a tad distracting and interfered with the flow of the story. If you like vintage clothing then the name drops of Susie Perette, Givenchy and the descriptions of the clothes Lizzie wore and restored will probably reel you in. And the subplot of  restoring vintage gowns and running a vintage gown restoration shop will probably do you in.

All books revolve around romance, albeit different guys in each. In the first book, she has a thing for a British Andy and then Prince Charming Jean-Luc (Luke). In the second, she has eyes only for Luke, or so she thinks, until her best friend's boyfriend Chaz lets on that he loves her. In the third, it's a toss up again between Luke and Chaz. The guys in the book are pretty stereotypical - the hip Andy who turns out to be a disaster, the better-than-life prince charming Luke (with French chateau to boot), and the guy you never noticed until he kisses you, your eyes are opened and you kick yourself realizing that he's really, really the only cool guy who knows you and with whom you can be yourself.

I was really rooting for Luke because despite his one-dimensionality in book 2 (Queen of Babble in the Big City), he seemed like a nice guy when he was first appeared in the series. He just never really evolved though, so he fell flat in the third book. Now Chaz came out of the blue. He was so into Lizzie's best friend, Shari, in the first and most of the second book that I did not see it coming! I kept asking in books 2 and 3: what the heck happened to Lizzie and Luke's special connection in the train to Mirac?

The premise of the series is that Lizzie lands herself in some trouble because of her tendency to babble. So the plots deal a lot with the aftermath of these foot-in-the-mouth incidents, some which turn out for the better. I found myself chuckling, at least in the first book, where it was pretty obvious. Only Lizzie would be able to dump someone and end up saying yes, I'll loan you money. Or end up spilling her soul to some stranger on the train. Queen of Babble doesn't really babble much in the next two books, not really.

One thing that is quite surprising in these books is the rather graphic description of sexual acts. So if you're expecting Princess Diaries, don't. And keep these away from your teenager or tweenager! Seriously, the sex didn't sit quite right in the books. Early on in the first book, Lizzie rues that she would like her blow*** back. Other sex scenes seem taken out of Mills and Boons.

First lines:
Queen of Babble
I can't believe this.

Queen of Babble in the Big City
I open my eyes to see the morning sunlight slanting across the Renoir hanging above my bed, and for a few seconds, I don't know where I am.

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched
"Chaz," I say, poking the man in the tuxedo who lay sprawled across my bed.

Verdict: A light, quick read that will keep you laughing, sighing, and flipping those pages. Borrow from the library, kick back and enjoy!

9 comments:

  1. Hey! (Here initially because of the Comment Carnival) but I REALLY enjoyed reading this review of these books as a unit. I tried to read a Meg Cabot book one time and was totally turned off by her ditzy way of writing and presenting her characters. Still, I really enjoyed the movie The Princess Diaries (and I haven't read those books) so I didn't want to be too hasty.

    I wasn't sure what the Babble books were like but you gave such a nice overview and some helpful insight. Thank you so much! Great review!

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  2. I haven't read book 3 yet. Book 1 was good, book 2 was kind of weird for me, especially the Shari twist, and yeah, I figured that would happen in book 3...

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  3. I am with you absolutely love Meg. Just finished Jinx and wish she'd write more like it. I will definitely have to check this one out.

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  4. I love Meg Cabot books they are always so much fun.

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  5. @Carrie Well, it IS chick lit. I just enjoy them for what they are. Kind of like going back in time with my Sweet Dreams!

    @Blooey Wasn't the Shari twist so out of it? No warning whatsoever. I was thinking back that I Bookmooched your Citizen Girl and a few other chick lit books from you! Di ba? Gosh, I think you were among the first few who unearthed my chick lit gene!

    @Jan von Harz Will have to check out Jinx. :)

    @Doret Yup they are so much fun, which is what I love about them!

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  6. Hi Aloi,

    Thanks for stopping by Playing by the book! I don't know Dot and the Kangaroo and the only copy in our library system is not for loan, so I shall have to keep my eyes open for it in the charity shops. Do you particularly like the book?

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  7. @playigbythebook Love to have stumbled on your blog. Was wondering if you had read Dot and the Kangaroo since you're in Australia (or am i mistaken?) Twas one of my fave childhood books! Thanks for popping over!

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  8. Hahaha, me naman, Bookmooch helped me outgrow my chicklit phase, although I still read chick lit once in awhile.

    I was so weirded out by the Shari thing coming out of nowhere.

    Try Meg Cabot's Every Boy's Got One, The Boy Next Door, and Boy Meets Girl. They're semi-epistolary, told through email exchanges and whatnot, and very very funny. She wrote them before she was known as Meg Cabot, and I think they're way better than this series.

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  9. Meg's my fav... so naturally I LOVED these :o)

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