One of my favorite authors mentioned this book’s parallels to Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and I think the comparison is fair, in that Sally Milz and Anne Elliot both self-sabotage their own romantic happiness and have to find their way out of the mess.
I appreciated how Romantic Comedy drops you right into the middle of a fictional, Saturday Night Live-inspired weekly sketch show called The Night Owls. Sittenfeld does a great job with these opening scenes1—you immediately get a sense of Sally’s talent, how being a woman in a male-dominated writer’s room has worked against her during her career, and how she’s constantly gauging her actions against other people’s perceptions/assumptions about her. I found myself quickly immersed in the rhythms of The Night Owl’s production schedule, and familiar with the various personalities: writers, producers, performers. It’s a bit of a magic trick to do this sort of effortless world-building, and it was my favorite part of the book.
When pop star Noah Brewster shows up to host TNO you get a sense of how this could be just another week, except for the small sparks that keep happening between him and Sally. The romance part of the book is curious, mostly because unlike an Austen novel, there are very few outside forces working against Sally and Noah—the biggest roadblocks lie squarely in Sally’s mind. I wonder how that works for different readers. I was happy to go for the ride, and I do think that Sittenfeld finds an ending that feels true to her characters.
I say scenes, because technically there’s only three chapters in the book. ↩︎