Book Review – The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
Published by Simon & Schuster on July 12th 2016
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Goodreads Synopsis: The new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Devil Wears Prada and Revenge Wears Prada—a dishy tell-all about a beautiful tennis prodigy who, after changing coaches, suddenly makes headlines on and off the court.
Charlotte “Charlie” Silver has always been a good girl. She excelled at tennis early, coached by her father, a former player himself, and soon became one of the top juniors in the world. When she leaves UCLA—and breaks her boyfriend’s heart—to turn pro, Charlie joins the world’s best athletes who travel eleven months a year, competing without mercy for Grand Slam titles and Page Six headlines.
After Charlie suffers a disastrous loss and injury on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she fires her longtime coach and hires Todd Feltner, a legend of the men’s tour, who is famous for grooming champions. Charlie is his first-ever female player, and he will not let her forget it. He is determined to change her good-girl image—both on the court and off—and transform her into a ruthless competitor who will not only win matches and climb the rankings, but also score magazine covers and seven-figure endorsement deals. Her not-so-secret affair with the hottest male player in the world, sexy Spaniard Marco Vallejo, has people whispering, and it seems like only a matter of time before the tabloids and gossip blogs close in on all the juicy details. Charlie’s ascension to the social throne parallels her rising rank on the women’s tour—but at a major price.
Lauren Weisberger’s novel brings us exclusive behind-the-scenes details from all the Grand Slam tournaments: the US Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon. Charlie Silver jets around the globe, plays charity matches aboard Mediterranean megayachts, models in photo shoots on Caribbean beaches, walks the red carpet at legendary player parties, and sidesteps looming scandals—all while trying to keep her eyes on the real prize. In this sexy, unputdownable read about young tennis stars who train relentlessly to compete at the highest levels while living in a world obsessed with good looks and Instagram followers, Charlie must discover the secret to having it all—or finally shatter the illusion for good.
I wanted a light read to take with me on a recent weekend getaway. I saw Lauren Weisberger’s The Singles Game on Netgalley and immediately requested it because I remembered how much I had enjoyed The Devil Wears Prada when it came out years ago. Thanks so much to Netgalley, Simon and Schuster, and Ms. Weisberger for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this novel.
Let me start off by saying that The Singles Game fit my initial criteria for selecting it perfectly. It was very entertaining and I easily breezed through it while on my weekend retreat. If you’re looking for a fun weekend or beach read, I would highly recommend this one. It’s like binge watching a show on Netflix – once you start, you won’t be able to stop. And I had no idea how racy the world of tennis could be!
What I Enjoyed about The Singles Game:
The Underdog Protagonist – Charlotte Silver, or Charlie as she is better known, is definitely my kind of protagonist. I was hooked on Charlie and in her corner from the moment she went down on Wimbledon’s Centre Court with what could easily have been a career-ending injury. The spunk and determination she displays as she fights her way back from her injuries and prepares to make her comeback on the pro tennis circuit is truly admirable and I couldn’t help but cheer her on, especially once I got a taste of Natalya, Charlie’s biggest rival on the circuit and about as nasty and conniving as they come. Once you meet Natalya, you’ll want Charlie to make mince meat of her on the tennis court.
What I also liked about Charlie though was that she makes lots of mistakes along the way. There’s no attempt here to make her a flawless heroine; she’s human just like the rest of us and like most of us, her judgment can be questionable at times. As much as I cheered her on, there were also many times when I wanted to throttle her. Her relationship with Marco is probably at the top of the list, followed by the crazy Warrior Princess image overhaul suggested by her new coach. I really couldn’t believe she went along with that one – a tiara and a black bedazzled tennis outfit? I don’t know much about tennis, but do players actually wear outfits like that when they play? All I kept thinking of was watching Katniss Everdeen getting outfitted for the Hunger Games ceremonies. Weisberger does a very good job here of making me invested enough in Charlie that I want to jump in the book and yank the tiara off her head because I’m embarrassed for her.
Again, because it makes her human and relatable, I like that Charlie stops to re-evaluate her comeback as she begins to feel less and less comfortable with the direction she has taken and some of the choices she has made, and especially when she senses that her father is disappointed with some of her off-court antics. I think losing sight of oneself is something a lot of us can relate to. Is what we think we want worth all of the sacrifices we have to make in order to get it?
The Obnoxious Antagonist – Of course I’m talking about Natalya here. I do love a character that I can hate and Natalya most definitely fits the bill. She’s evil, conniving, ruthless, and basically has no redeeming qualities other than the fact that she is an amazing tennis player. Believe me when I say you will loathe this girl. I lost track of how many times I wished she would trip and fall when she would strut into events where 5-inch heels.
There’s a full assortment of unlikeable characters, such as Marco and Charlie’s new coach Todd, but Natayla takes the crown for being most unlikeable.
Lots of Drama (but the fun kind!) – We’re not talking life and death drama here. This is Chick Lit, after all, but let’s just say that Weisberger’s world of professional tennis has just as much going on off the court as on it between who’s sleeping with who and who’s cheating on who. These athletes keep the gossip rags and the paparazzi very busy and will keep you turning the pages to find out how it all plays out and to see who gets left out in the cold. Do nice guys and gals really finish last?
Weisberger’s Handling of the Tennis – Not knowing much about tennis, I was a little worried going in the book that I might find it a little boring, but Weisberger does a fantastic job of accurately portraying the details of the sports itself without making it dry for those who aren’t necessarily interested in the sport.
Potential Downsides to the novel:
Overall, I thought this was a really enjoyable read. There were, however, a couple of questionable areas for me.
Too Similar to The Devil Wears Prada? – There were moments along the way when I kept thinking about how much this book reminded me of Weisberger’s earlier work. The premise is very similar – for those who haven’t read The Devil Wears Prada, the protagonist is a girl who lands herself in an enviable job in the fashion industry. The job, however, requires her to undergo such a radical transformation that she doesn’t recognize herself anymore and starts to question if the job is worth the cost to her sense of self. That said, I can’t say that the similarity really hampered my enjoyment of The Singles Game at all, but I could see it perhaps bothering other readers who want something more original, less formulaic.
Predictable Romantic Ending: Don’t get me wrong — I loved the way the novel ends for Charlie and couldn’t have asked for better, but I predicted how it would end as soon as the two characters met. Again, it didn’t hamper my overall enjoyment of the read, but I like a little more mystery and guesswork in my novels when it comes to romantic relationships and how they’re going to play out.
Would I Recommend The Singles Game?
Oh yes, definitely. As I said earlier, I think The Singles Game is the perfect book to take with you on vacation or to the beach. It’s a fun, fast read with plenty of dramatic and sexy twists and turns to keep readers engaged from cover to cover.