I had mixed feelings about Copygirl and will admit that I judged this bright pink paperback by its cover. Having recently re-watched every episode of Mad Men, however, I was primed for it’s title to catch my eye and encourage me to glimpse the premise. After reading the back cover I was close to leaving it on the shelf, but somewhere on there are the words ‘Mad Men meets The Devil Wears Prada…’ and I was again somewhat intrigued. It also mentions this book was written by two former colleagues who realized their experiences attempting to climb New York’s advertising ladder would make a great novel. This gave me hope that I might be pleasantly surprised and maybe get a modern-day Peggy Olson story line.
Copygirl is a story about Kay, a copywriter living in New York City who is in love with her best friend/art director/working partner/roommate Ben. Believing that career success for she and Ben will foster a romantic relationship Kay is determined to land a campaign that will take them from up-and-comers to recognized creative power duo in the ad industry. While Kay is pulling more than her share of their weight at the office Ben is sort of aimless and easily led and begins to spend more time partying (with the office bros Josh, John, and Jay and the office hot girl Peyton) than he does working or with Kay.
Along the way there are workplace disasters, a best friend in Paris with total disregard for time zones, much use of a SnapChat-like app called Shout Out, a pushy mom and a recently engaged brother, and oh yeah, wax dolls. I couldn’t really get my head around Kay’s wax doll making hobby, but it’s a rather significant part of the story line and, well, there it is.
Somewhere in there we take a brief pause from reality and it all goes a bit rom-com montage sequence. Kay (reluctantly, of course) gets treated to an amazing manicure and before she has time to repeat how out-of-character this is for her she is forced into (reluctantly) having her hair restyled for free by none other than the fantastic boyfriend of one of the higher ups at her agency. But the make-over magic doesn’t end there. Kay is immediately whisked over to Bloomingdale’s where she tries on a number of looks that she can’t possibly afford, but all look divine on her. The one item she decides to buy needs alterations and would you believe that the woman who does the alterations at Bloomingdale’s is an old lady Kay shared a sweet moment with at a McDonald’s on a snowy and miserable night? The next thing we know Kay’s altered dress is messengered to her home along with all of the expensive designer outfits she had tried on. Turns out the little old lady from McDonald’s is loaded and works at Bloomingdale’s as a hobby (and moonlights as a fairy godmother apparently).
With her inadvertent make-over complete, Kay makes her way to her brother’s hip and stylish engagement party where she surprisingly runs into one of her bosses – a man whom she only ever refers to as ‘Suit’. Up until this point in the story ‘Suit’ has inexplicably been a source of some serious irritation for Kay. If he asks how her work is coming along she detours into ranting about how annoying he is and it seems she resents everything about the man from his impeccable attire to his supermodel girlfriend. Tonight, however, it’s different.
I don’t think I need to say it, but everything wraps up beautifully and as conflicting as they were, both of my instincts about this book were correct. The writing is rough-around-the-edges, the story predictable and the protagonist underwhelming, but it was still enjoyable. This is easily a weekend read and, as is often the case with light and quick reads, it was a perfect literary snack during a rather heavy few months when my work zapped me almost entirely out of energy. It satisfied indeed.