Author: Judith Martin
First off, I don't make any claim to familiarity with the "comedy of manners" genre, so I can't offer any judgment as to whether this is a successful book of the type. The author, Judith Martin, is also the writer of the Miss Manners newspaper column and books, so the word "manners" in the subtitle helps remind the browser that s/he knows the name from somewhere. It was enough to pique my interest, and I borrowed the book from my library.
First person narration of the novel is by Alice Bard, a newly unemployed tv news anchor, drama whore, and bubblehead. The character isn't very bright, and while I suppose this is supposed to be funny it didn't work for me. Bard is all Watson, and there is no Holmes for counterpoint.
Having lost her job (but with a good chunk of money still coming to her under contract), Alice decides she needs a husband, and somehow this requires her to travel to Greece to convince a widowed childhood friend to move to Washington DC. While in Greece Alice learns of an antiquities show being packaged up for touring U.S. museums, and decides to become involved. She also hooks up with a museum curator who turns out to be exceptionally hot in bed, in a hungry-selfish-passion kinda way.
Will Alice find a cosmetics tycoon to sponsor the art tour? Yes. Will Alice play matchmaker to her friend? Yes. Will Alice fall in and out of bed? Yes. Will Alice find a new career as bubbleheaded popular historian? Yes. Is there a subplot around art smuggling? Yes. Will evil be punished and mediocrity triumph? Yes.
Style and Substance is worth reading. It is a quick and easy read, and Martin knows her way around Washington politics and society, as well as the tv and newspaper business, so the background is always fun.
Not a must-read, but a good way to spend a few hours. Grade: B.