This is one of my favourite romance novels of all time. Actually, no, scratch that. This is one of my favourite novels of all time. I have other favourites, as well: A Room with a View, by E.M. Forster; Tam Lin, by Pamela Dean; Tess of the D’Urbervilles, by Thomas Hardy; whatever other ones I have listed on my facebook page. But Bet Me is definitely on the list of ‘comfort books’, books that stay with me. It’s not just that the story stays with me. Every so often, specific scenes and specific passages pop into my head, and then I want to (have to) reread the book. It’s kind of like when you get a song stuck in your head, and then you listen to the song in the hope that it will get the song out of your head. That never works for me with songs, but I consistently try it anyway.
(Note: One definition of insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.’ God, I need therapy.)
Anyway. Bet Me. It’s one of those dangerous books for me to read, because it gives me hope that one day I will find an all-consuming, intense love like Min and Cal’s. 99% of the time I’m cynical about love but there’s that 1% of hope, that longing for someone to break through my cynicism, and books like Bet Me (and movies like When Harry Met Sally) feed that 1%. I would be so much calmer if I could get rid of that 1%.It is an incredible book, though. I love Jennifer Crusie’s writing (I read her blog, too, although I don’t comment there – I don’t comment on most of the blogs that I read because I am afraid of coming across as a crazy stalker) but some of her books are breathless and intense because of frustrating situations. This one is breathless and intense because of the relationship and the way that people are dealing with it. Which, for me, is better.
Some of the scenes that stick with me are kind of pivotal scenes. Hopefully without spoiling anything too much, they include the scene in the movie theatre (especially the silent walk home) and the scenes where the universe is hurting them, especially Cal’s. The fight after he sings might end up in my head next time, too.
Other things I love about Bet Me: the strong female friendships (I miss my sister and my best friends – I hope the Three-Year Plan works out), Cal’s support for Min’s body type even in the face of her mother’s insistence that skinny = keeping a man, the variety of romantic relationships (Bonnie and her fairy tale, Min and Cal and fighting it, Liza and her casualness, Diana and her search), and most of all I love that sex does not automatically equal pregnancy. I love that having kids isn’t even a part of Min’s fairy tale. In so many romance novels, the heroine gets pregnant either the first time that she has sex or the first time she has unprotected sex, and at the very least the book ends with a pregnancy announcement. As someone who doesn’t necessarily see kids (or even marriage) in her future, it’s so nice to have a heroine who also doesn’t rely on the ‘typical’ family for her dream of happiness.
There are so many good things about Bet Me that it’s impossible to list them all here. It’s one of the books that I turn to when I’m having a bad anything: day, week, month, love life, etc. It’s a book where I want to take the main character as my role model in so many things. It’s a book that reassures me even as it gives me (false) hope. It’s a book that everyone who likes ‘chick-lit’ should definitely read, and it’s possibly a book that will change the minds of people who look down on ‘chick-lit’. It’s that good.