Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: Falling for Me by Anna David

Falling For Me by Anna David: In this memoir, the single thirty-five year old author endeavors to follow the advice of legendary Helen Gurley Brown (longtime editor of Cosmo) as presented in her 1960's book Sex and the Single Girl. From learning to roast a chicken to decorating her apartment so that it is a comfortable "nest" for a man, the author acquires skills ostensibly to help in the jungle that is dating; however, she learns more than mere skills - she gains insight into what has prevented her from finding love in the past and the importance of truly valuing herself before she can expect a man to do the same.

One day the author wakes up and realizes she is in the latter half of her thirties, childless and without any viable relationship prospects on the horizon. As she describes it at the beginning of the book:
Now it all feels like it's too late - like while I was off screwing around and building a career, the men I'd want to partner off with went and married younger girls who were happy to put their work lives second or possibly not even have them at all so that they could focus on a relationship. It's like coming out of a blackout and discovering that you're in the process of losing a game of musical chairs you didn't even know you wanted to play.
(My thought at this point in the book - Hmmm . . . this musical chairs game sounds hauntingly familiar). With this realization in hand, the author sets out to change the path she is on and discovers Helen Gurley Brown's book. She decides to spend a year following the icon's advice since her own attempts at finding a lasting relationship have not panned out. In an effort to expand her interests and skills, she takes pottery and cooking courses, she receives expert hair and makeup intervention, she "feathers the nest" by warmly decorating her apartment and moving out the post college temporary furniture. With each new experience, the author gains unexpected insight and begins to feel empowered. For example, she realizes the reason she hasn't taken much care with her clothes and hair over the years is that she hadn't wanted to seem like she was trying thereby revealing her vulnerability. That leads her to consider if her reluctance to reveal vulnerability has kept her from doing other things and taking chances in general. She takes one of her biggest chances when she follows Gurley Brown's advice to travel. Despite being outwardly confident and seemingly worldly, the author has traveled little outside the country. Remembering she was most happy when she spent time abroad in Spain, she rather impulsively sets up a house exchange for one month with a woman from Seville. She has many second thoughts as she starts her trip but she is determined to push outside her boundaries and forges forward.

Sprinkled throughout all these personal enrichment exercises are a series of dates and relatively short-lived relationships. She meets these men via online dating sites, speed-dating events and random set-ups. The dates serve to allow her to test out her many new skills but more importantly to see how her new approach changes her previously destructive behavior in relationships - they become a barometer for the progress she is making in her project. Obviously, she doesn't look at them this way - she hopes one of these dates will result in her finding the partner she desires. After all, she is still surrounded by friends and acquaintances whose lives are moving through the major life milestones like marriage and babies. She describes learning that one of her friends is pregnant:
A familiar ache rises in me - the feeling that someone close to me has something I am scared I am never going to get. . . . . but my own anguish disappears as quickly as it came on and I feel genuinely happy for her
Falling For Me is well written with the right balance of wit and true insight so that it is neither heavy and morose nor shallow and fluffy. Although the construct of selecting a book or philosophy and following for it one year ( think Julie and Julia) has been done and seemed an unlikely endeavor for most of us, you quickly get over that as Anna David shares the real trials of recognizing that you have almost let something pass you by and now realize you really want it. She writes with feeling and authenticity while knowing when to lighten things up.   Some of Gurley Brown's advice seems anachronistic to the modern western woman but the following quote show how timeless her advice really was and it sums up the entire spirit of Falling For Me:
Her [Gurley Brown] overall message seemed to be that all single woman need to do is see what a glorious position they're in and then, if they want the next stage- the ring and ceremony, the mother-in-law and nursing children - do everything in their power to reach it.
I recommend this book and if you would like to read it yourself, please participate in the giveaway. Thanks to Julia Drake PR, one lucky US winner will receive a copy of Falling For Me.  Just fill out the form below and winners will be selected Friday, November Nov 4th.



  1. It sounds like this book has some valuable lessons and is entertaining all at once. Great review!

  2. It sounds like it would make a good movie too!

  3. Anna David is my favorite author
    I loved this book and I am going to try to use her example to help me in my own life and get me out of my comfort zone

  4. Somehow I didn't realize the author had literally followed all the advice of the book she read. Even though it's been done before I still like that idea with it being a different kind of book!

  5. I love your review! I have read a few other reviews of this book but none were as descriptive. Cannot wait to read this book!

  6. I really enjoyed this book too! I think it was fun to read and I was impressed to see that a lot of Helen's advice to prove relevant to the current times to.

  7. This sounds really good. It's going on my wishlist. I totally agree with Jill, too - it sounds like it would make for an interesting chick flick one day.