Friday, December 9, 2011

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus: A Novel About Marriage, Motherhood, and Mayhem
by Sonya Sones
Harper, 2011
420 pages
source: borrowed

In a nutshell:
The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus is a coming-of-middle-age story told in verse.

My thoughts:
Holly is turning 50, sending her only child off to college, and desperately trying write a book. She's also dealing with wildly fluctuating hormones, an empty nest, an aging mother in the midst of a health crisis, editorial deadlines, and a husband who may or may not be fooling around. And that's just for starters.

Under normal circumstances I wouldn't consider reading a novel in verse, but The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus came with Sandy's personal assurance that I'd love it - and Sandy has never steered me wrong. Every woman of 'a certain age' will be able to identify with at least some of the issues Holly faces. You may even find yourself asking "Could she be writing about my life?"

This book is well-suited to the busy month of December.  It reads quickly - perfect for several short bursts, or you can read the entire novel in a sitting or two. One cautionary note: Be careful where you read it. You may burst out in laughter in inappropriate places or, like me, cry while waiting in the dentist's office.

Favorite poems:


Well, you are old
if you had trouble understanding
the title of this poem.

You are old
if you have no idea who that person is
who's hosting Saturday Night Live.

You are old
if before you head off
on your morning run

you find yourself
tucking your husband's
cell phone number in your pocket

so that the paramedics
will know
who to call.


Michael and I watch her
skip off down the sidewalk
with her new roommates,

the four of them already a unit,
their bursts of laughter floating back to us
as they disappear around a corner,

than a litter
of leashless pups.

Then, the two of us
head out into the night,
hand in silent hand,

to find
the nearest
liquor store.


First it burns with desire,
with uncontrolled lust.

You touch each other
and you combust.

But if no one remembers
to stir the embers,

to feed them, poke them,
tend them, stoke them,

the blaze that once sizzled
will sputter and fizzle.

Which is why
I always say:

thank the Lord
for lingerie.

And take a look at this poem:
(click to enlarge)

My rating:

Bottom Line:
As Sandy would say, "You've GOTTA read this!"


  1. I thought this book was chick-lit when I first saw the title, but now I'm thinking I may love this as much as I loved "I Feel Bad about My Neck" by Ephron....great review JoAnn.

  2. I loved this book and credit it for my new found love of books written in verse.

  3. Great review - thanks for including the excerpts. I have been skeptical about books in verse but reading your excerpts has changed my mind!

  4. Interesting poems quoted. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I've never read a book written in verse. The poems you posted are funny but also quite profound.

  6. I don't think I would like this book, but I love the title.

  7. Diane - I though it was chick-lit at first, too... and I LOVED I Feel Bad About My Neck.

    Bermudaonion - Don't think I've ever read a novel in verse before. Are there others you would recommend?

    Booksnyc - Never thought I would enjoy a novel in verse so much!

    Nana Fredua-Agyeman - Not exactly conventional poetry, but so much fun to read!

    Sam - This was a first for me, too, and turned out to be so much more than what I was expecting.

    Thomas - I can't really picture you reading this, but it sure is a great title!

  8. I read this library book in one sitting this summer and enjoyed it so much I went out the next day and bought a copy for myself. I have a feeling I will be re-reading sections of it over and over again.

  9. Great review. I will definitely pick it up after reading your review.

  10. Wow! So glad you liked it!

    If someone you know would like a special autographed copy for the holidays, here's how to get one:

    Happy reading!

  11. I LOVED this book and devoured it in a day. I did find myself getting weepy one minute and then laughing the next. So glad that you took the chance on this one!

  12. Oh fun!! I really should pick this up. So many people have loved it.

  13. i jst learnd 2 txt this fall (am SO lame) + cldnt find the CLR button til smne showed me so I loved the first 'chapter' ! Agree that this sounds like something I would enjoy!

  14. Molly - My copy came from the library, too, but I may end up buying one to keep on the shelf.

    Linda - Thanks. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    Sonya - That's for writing such an amazing book!

    Staci - It really is a book almost every woman can relate to... just wish I hadn't been in the dentist's office when I teared up ;-)

    Beth F - You really must read this!

  15. Oh Audrey, you are SO funny. Thanks for this Monday morning laugh!

  16. Well you had me when you mentioned laughing and crying in public (am I weird that I like books that can make me do both in public)? Might look into this for my stepmom for Christmas!

  17. Trish - LOL! I don't mind laughing in public quite as much as crying. I may end up giving this as a gift, too.

  18. Seeing how I just turned 50, I think I need to buy this book! Bookfool wrote a great review this past summer, which piqued my interest. Not sure why I never got around to getting a copy, but your review has convinced me it's one to own. I love that final poem about vision. So, so true!

  19. Les - I think you'd love this book! I'm giving a couple copies as gifts this season.


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