Book review: Karyn Bosnak’s “20 Times A Lady”

To be perfectly honest, the only reason I became aware of the existence of Karyn Bosnak was through Chris Evans’ unclothed torso. I pretty much had to watch “What’s Your Number” after being promised naked Chris Evans, and thankfully I wasn’t that disappointed.

Aside from the long stretches of Chris Evans without clothing, “What’s Your Number” was just your pretty typical romantic comedy. Nothing outstanding, but good enough for you to pass the time with, especially if it was on HBO.

However, when I found out that it was based on a book, my interest was immediately piqued. Would the character Chris Evans’ plays in the movie be as charming a rogue in the book? Will there be gratuitous shirtlessness? Will it have shiny inserts with stills from the movie? Perhaps a life-size poster? I’d love one of those. For science.

After reading an article in the New York Post stating that the average person has 10.5 partners in their lifetime, Delilah Darling has got some soul-searching to do. She’s just slept with her disgusting former boss after a night of drunken partying, tipping the number of men she’s slept with to 20 and condemning her to a life of chastity and cats.

Unwilling to accept this, Delilah enlists the help of her handsome next door neighbor Colin to help her track down her former flames in the hopes of finding The One among them. Will she succeed in her cross-country quest for true love? Or will she just have to face facts and accept that this is the end of the road for her and her romantic life?

Having been mildly entertained by its big screen incarnation, I had expected that “20 Times A Lady” would at least be a fun read, with some memorable lines and a few romantic scenes that would get an old spinster like me going and content for the next few months. I was expecting the bare minimum from this book.

Apparently, that was already too much, as it would be fair to say that the overwhelming average-ness of “What’s Your Number” was a definite improvement over this waste of dead trees. At least “What’s Your Number” had beefcake to tide everyone over; “20 Times A Lady” consigns Colin to the telephone lines and instead offers up an assortment of guys that are far from charming or even mildly interesting.

It’s not just the men that are lacking, as Delilah Darling is far from entertaining as well. With her tendency to get a little too drunk, a little too clumsy, and generally just a little too ditzy, you’d think that she’d fit right into the mold that Bridget Jones created all those many years ago. Unfortunately, Bosnak is no Helen Fielding, and instead just ends up making Delilah look like one of those girls you knew back in high school that ended up pregnant way ahead of everybody else.

The harebrained schemes that Delilah thinks of in her pursuit of the 20 men she’s slept with over the years aren’t particularly amusing either. After the first two guys, everything just becomes an exercise in tedium and boredom. One encounter stretches the readers’ suspension of disbelief so thinly that it wouldn’t surprise me if they decide to stop reading at that particular part of the novel.

The book’s overarching “moral” — that you should be proud of your past mistakes because they make you who you are — is standard for these kinds of books, but the long and tedious journey that Bosnak takes to get her readers there is definitely not worth it.

And the worst thing about this book? There wasn’t even any shirtless Chris Evans pictures scattered throughout the work to ameliorate the sheer pain of having to slog through it. I will not be that cruel.

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