Reviewed by Sara Hodon
Falling For Me: How I Hung Curtains, Learned to Cook, Traveled to Seville, and Fell in Love
by Anna David
William Morrow Paperbacks
Paperback: 320 pages, October 11, 2011, ISBN-13: 978-0061996047
Who hasn’t fallen into a bit of a slump? No matter how great our lives are, doing the same old things day in and day out can get a bit boring. Add this to the fact that you aren’t meeting any new or exciting people and the search for love seems endless, and you’ve basically hit on the premise of Anna David’s memoir Falling For Me: How I Hung Curtains, Learned to Cook, Traveled to Seville, and Fell in Love.
At the beginning of the book, David, an author and journalist who has penned two novels in addition to countless articles for top American publications, isn’t exactly miserable with her life overall—she has just come to realize that she needs a bit of a change. While she is satisfied professionally, her lack of success in the love department makes her take a good hard look at her approaches to dating and what kinds of signals she has been sending to men. Her conclusion? Time to shake things up a bit.
By sheer coincidence, while browsing in a bookstore one day, David finds a copy of the book Sex and the Single Girl, the vintage 1960’s self-help guide by former Vogue editor Helen Gurley Brown. While some of the advice Gurley Brown offers up is a little, well, dated, David decides to apply these words of wisdom to her own life and starts taking Gurley Brown’s tips to heart. Soon, David finds herself stepping out of her comfort zone—trying things that have scared her in the past (i.e. rollerblading and water sports), redecorating her apartment (in an effort to lose the “college dorm look”) and giving herself a head-to-toe makeover. She also widens her options for meeting men—while she was once hesitant about trying online dating, she embraces this challenge, posts a profile, and dutifully schedules a few dates, with wildly mixed results.
What’s so endearing about Falling For Me is that David does not try to portray herself as perfect. She’s just like any other single woman out there, putting her best foot forward trying to fall in love—the only difference is, she’s working on falling in love with herself first. Sure, meeting a man and finding lasting love is the catalyst for this experiment, but what’s most interesting is that along the way, David gets to know plenty of first dates, but more importantly, she gets to know herself above all.
David makes no secret of the fact that putting yourself out there and making big changes to a life that was once comfortable and familiar (if a little routine) is never easy. Over the course of this experiment, she finds that while she is trying new things, some of them simply don’t appeal to her. She realizes that she will never master the French language, nor is she cut out for a career as a potter, and that’s okay. The fact that she tries these things and learns new things about herself is what counts.
The other endearing thing about this book is that David stresses that it’s the journey that matters. The conclusion of the book isn’t wrapped in a neat, tidy, “happily-ever-after” package, but rather, the emphasis is on the fact that David is a woman who is ready and willing to come into her own, and hopefully there will be a fantastic reward at the end. David’s writing style is conversational and down-to-earth—almost as if she were a close girlfriend filling you in on what’s been happening with her life. Sure, her career as an in-demand writer and journalist may seem glamorous, but as Falling For Me shows, even the most glamorous lives have a less-than-fabulous side.
About the reviewer: Sara Hodon’s work has appeared in History, Young Money, WritersWeekly.com, and The Valley: Lebanon Valley College’s Magazine, among others. She is also the “Date and Relate” columnist for Online Dating Magazine (www.onlinedatingmagazine.com). Read more about her trials and triumphs in the writing life on her blog, http://adventuresinthewritinglife.blogspot.com