At first glance, Fall Girl seems to be just a fun and fluffy mix of chick lit* and dick lit**. Our hero, Della, is a beautiful, intelligent woman with man troubles. The twist is, she’s also a con artist, living with her extended mafia-type family in a rambling mansion in Melbourne. That’s the set up. The plot rests on the question – can she con the handsome and rich Daniel out of his money – without sleeping with him?
What shifted Fall Girl from chick lit to dick lit was the control Della took over her own destiny. While most chick lit characters let the book happen to them, Della steps up and actively drives the plot forward. It’s nice to see a lady-protagonist empowered somewhere other than the boutique and the bedroom. The other element of dick lit I’ll mention before dropping that awful term forever was an extended Oceans Eleven type sequence. The entire con artist family dressed as maintenance workers and students and secretaries to help Della sneak into the university and pose as a professor. It was absolutely brilliant – although unfortunately the rest of the book suffered a little by comparison.
What shifted Fall Girl away from lit and closer to literature was the characters. As well as Della, there was the wonderful Ruby the not-evil step mother. There was a patriarch, a brother, a lover, some cousins, an uncle and an aunt as well as the mysterious and wealthy Daniel. It was the characters which carried the book, and made it better than it might have been.
The ending was satisfying, if a little unexpected and notably light on explosions. Della stayed strong right until the very last page and seeing that strength of character was the best ending you could hope for.
Upon reflection, Fall Girl is fun and not as fluffy as you might think. It’s the smartest beach read I’ve had in a while.
*Books for ladies. Characterised by man troubles and obsession with shoes. Somewhat dull.
**Books for Real Men (not sissies). Characterised by Jack Ryan blowing up terrorists. Both impenetrable and dull.