The Immaculate Complexion
by Edie Bloom
(Making It, $6.99, G) ISBN 0-8439-5856-1
The Immaculate Complexion is at the top of my “year’s” list as the worst, the most inane and ill-conceived tale of the year. At first, I thought the two authors who write under the name Edie Bloom wanted to try their hand at a “Devil Wore Prada” take-off in the beauty-cream industry. See, the heroine is a thirty-something, rather average-looking girl named Marnie Mann who has little understanding about the consequences of attempting to be thin and beautiful at all costs. She enters La Vigne Cosmetics as a temp, and is truly like a fish out of water. But then there was no real devil of a boss, and the book headed into another direction.

Next, I thought this was going to be a tale about a young lady and her friend who start to develop their own natural products, and they would end up competing with La Vigne. But Marnie and her friend Holly just sort of talk about this, and the story line never really develops.

Finally, we have Paul, Marnie’s boyfriend. It looks like this is going to be the basis of the story. Paul is an anti-hero. He is often indifferent to her. We learn little about him. He is a cheese salesman and connoisseur. At times he is obsessed with cheese, which is not an endearing habit. He also has an ex-wife who is rude to Marnie, keeps popping up and basically walks all over Paul. But Marnie acts as if she is desperate and Paul is her only hope. Their romance is not at all engaging.

The plot seems to revolve around Marnie’s job of doing rather ridiculous promotions trying to get clients to buy La Vigne products by making outrageous claims. All the while she is enmeshed with a number of blond twits who worry about nothing but their looks, their clothes and their kowtowing to the powers that be. These women, who have names like Tawny, Murfy and Juniper, are indistinguishable. They eat, then go throw up. They fight over who gets sample cosmetics and who the best Botox doctor is. At first, Marnie is critical of them. Then she starts emulating them, which causes problems for her. The authors even try to throw in a Botox murder plot. It is so convoluted I could barely follow along.

I stopped and started The Immaculate Deception so many times I lost count, then I forced myself to finish it in order to write this review. You know, I’m still not sure what the plot is. As I write this review, little stands out except my memory of the depression I felt having to spend my time reading it. I know there were attempts at humor, but they continually fell flat. For instance, there was a scene early on where La Vigne wanted doves to fly by and drop jewelry to promote their product. Marnie was the gofer responsible for taking the products to the bird guys, who had pigeons coated with talc to make white. Needless to say, things didn’t work out as planned. But rather than describe the hilarity of these pigeons flying in, Marnie found out about it later. It was a wasted scene, just like so much of the rest of the book.

The Immaculate Complexion is to be avoided at all costs.

--Shirley Lyons

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