Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Book Review - Lauren Willig's Two L

Two L by Lauren Willig
Published by: Amazon
Publication Date: August 27th, 2011
Format: Kindle
Rating: ★★★
To Buy
The Dean is taking time off. There is scandal brewing at Harvard Law. One of the most popular professors is accused of having an affair with one of his students. Never mind that he's known this woman, who is returning to school, from when they where first undergraduates together. But scandal is scandal. The Dean is leaving Arhur Agnelli in charge. Agnelli is a champion of women's rights and a bit on the puritanical side. Enter Megan Milner. She's caught in the eye of the storm, being asked by her "boyfriend" and the other frat boys over at the Law Review to speak on behalf of the accused. Megan has always had a high regard for Agnelli. His book Legal Bodies, THE work on the objectification of women in America's leading law firms has been her touchstone. Yet Agnelli seems to be propositioning her... which has to be some sort of test... right? With interviews and meetings, thinking about Agnelli gets put on the back burner, temporarily. Enter Mr. Friar, a career counselor, whose outre wardrobe belies the font of knowledge underneath. Megan appears to be being pulled into a weird world or eccentrics, plots and counter plots, and annoying calls from her "boyfriend." She really should dump him, no matter how busy her schedule is.

"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall." Or so Shakespeare tells us. And when does he get it wrong? Two L is written with the conceit of reimagining Shakespeare's Measure for Measure at Harvard Law. While to those who have never lived in the rarefied world of academia, the absurdities of Shakespeare might seem overly comical, unrealistic and absurd for the "real world." For those who've spent any time in academia, this seems totally plausible. The caricature of Mr. Friar, sadly dwells quite close to the reality of my advisor, just add a Russian fur hat and a penchant for bottling his own urine and you're there.

While labelled as one of Shakespeare's "problem plays" because it is never quite clear if it's comedy or tragedy, the set-up does lend itself well to Lauren's story. She is never more astute or wicked as when describing the ferocious job hunt, of which I myself have been participating of late, though not in Law. The only real fault I think the book has is in sticking too closely to the original play by Shakespeare (Wikipedia has a nice synopsis if you are in dire need). This, after all, is an adaptation. You can take or leave what you want. I would have eliminated the quotes at the start of each chapter, which did lend a bit too much melodrama and, for those unfamiliar with the play, probably confusion. The story speaks for itself really well and does not need the words of a greater man to frame it. But the happiest surprise of all was that Lauren can write in other genres. I am a huge fan of her historical novels and a modern retelling is a big step in a different direction. It was a fun quick read, and for those who are fans of Shakespeare, will contain even a little more for you.

Also, as a final aside, did anyone else picture the dean as Kyle Maclachlan?


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