Girl loves boy. Boy falls for girl’s gorgeous best friend. Girl steps gallantly aside, even agrees to be a bridesmaid at their wedding, until, right before the ceremony, gorgeous best friend smacks headlong into oncoming traffic on Beverly Boulevard, slips into a coma, and dies. What’s a good girl to do? This is the premise of Deanna Kizis’ heartfelt, grown-up chick-lit novel, Finishing Touches. The best chick-lit draws us into women’s intimate lives, and explores their anxieties about love, friendship and work, involving us in their struggle to find a happy place in the world. Kizis — who, as West Coast editor for Elle magazine, is well acquainted with all manner of girly subjects — accomplishes this in spades. “Men are fleeting,” says her heroine, Jesse Holz, wallflower, put-upon assistant interior decorator, and steadfast observer of the girl code’s prime directive, “but my friends are forever.” Putting that belief to the test drives the novel’s central narrative. Story aside, there are plenty of vicarious L.A.-centric thrills to be had (Jesse breakfasts at House of Pies, best friend Cecile kicks the bucket at Cedars-Sinai, widower Zach shops at The Grove), and Kizis’ prose is fluid and sweetly funny at times. (“I’d catch myself staring at him, a dripping paintbrush in my hand as I admired the skill he had with a power drill.”) Like its heroine, however, Finishing Touches’ greatest appeal lies in its straightforward and unpretentious manner. It isn’t trying to be more than it is, which is an enjoyable meditation on the ones we love, the ones we lose and the healing virtues of cute furniture.
FINISHING TOUCHES | By DEANNA KIZIS | Warner Books | 283 pages | $24 hardcover