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Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld

Contemporary fiction

Romantic Comedy

Repeat author

Curtis Sittenfeld is back at Book of the Month – other BOTMs include Eligible and Prep.

by Curtis Sittenfeld

Excellent choice

Excellent choice

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Quick take

2 minutes to show time! Romance? Check. Comedy? Check. Midlife crises, workplace antics, big feels and feminism? CHECK!

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Romance

    Romance

  • Illustrated icon, Light_Read

    Light read

  • Illustrated icon, Quirky

    Quirky

  • Illustrated icon, Movieish

    Movieish

Synopsis

Sally Milz is a sketch writer for “The Night Owls,” the late-night live comedy show that airs each Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life.

But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actor who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch called the “Danny Horst Rule,” poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman.

Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder whether there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy; it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her . . . right?

Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Romantic Comedy.

Romantic Comedy

PROLOGUE

February 2018

You should not, I’ve read many times, reach for your phone first thing in the morning—the news, social media, and emails all disrupt the natural stages of waking and create stress—which is how I’ll preface the fact that when I reached for my phone first thing one morning and learned that Danny Horst and Annabel Lily were dating, I was furious.

I wasn’t furious because I was in love with Danny Horst or, for that matter, with Annabel Lily. Nor was I furious because two more people in the world had found romantic bliss while I remained mostly single. And I wasn’t furious that I hadn’t heard the news directly from Danny, even though we shared an office. The reason I was furious was that Annabel Lily was a gorgeous, talented, world-famous movie star, and Danny was a schlub. He wasn’t a bad guy, and he, too, was talented. But, for Christ’s sake, he was a TV writer, a comedy writer—he was a male version of me. He was pasty skinned and sleep-deprived and sarcastic. And, perhaps because he was male or perhaps because he was a decade younger than I was, he was a lot less self-consciously people-pleasing and a lot more recklessly crass. At after-parties, he was undisguisedly high or tripping. He referred often, almost guilelessly, to both his social anxiety and his porn consumption. When he’d considered going on Rogaine, I had, at his request, used his phone to take pictures of the top of his head so that he could see exactly how much his hair was thinning there, and when he applied the medication the first time, I’d checked to make sure the foam was evenly rubbed in. And I was so familiar with the various genres of his burps that I could infer from them what he’d eaten recently.

Danny was like a little brother to me—I adored him, and he stank and got on my nerves. But his foul and annoying ways had, apparently, not precluded Annabel Lily’s interest. She’d been the guest host of The Night Owls three weeks prior, coinciding with the release of her latest film, the fourth in an action franchise in which she played a corrupt FBI agent. She’d delivered the opening monologue while wearing a one-shouldered black satin cocktail dress with a thigh slit, highlighting her slender yet curvy body; her long red hair had been styled into old Hollywood waves. Annabel was beautiful and sweet and charming, and if she didn’t have the best comic timing, she was completely game, which was just as important. In one sketch, she’d been called on to play a woodchuck, which entailed crawling around on all fours and wearing a furry suit and two enormous prosthetic front teeth. In fact, Danny had written this sketch, meaning it was plausible that they’d first been attracted to each other while rehearsing it.

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Why I love it

I always love to read a book that operates entirely by its own rules, ready to play with genres and follow its story wherever it can take readers. Enter Curtis Sittenfeld’s excellent new novel Romantic Comedy: a workplace comedy meets modern epistolary novel featuring a compelling midlife romance AND a cross-country roadtrip. And despite these many ingredients, it remains entertaining and fleet-footed throughout. It’s a perfect breezy welcome to spring and delightful company to the very last page.

At the center of this story is Sally Milz, a sketch writer for late-night live comedy show The Night Owls (think SNL). Her job is demanding but rewarding, and she even has an Emmy to show for her efforts. But Sally has been less lucky in love and has mostly given up on romance, having notched her fill of failed relationships. Then one week while working on a sketch with the show’s latest host—Noah Brewster, a mega popstar—despite herself Sally begins to flirt a bit with possibilities (and Noah). That is until one overly harsh remark from Sally threatens to put their budding relationship on permanent ice . . .

Like any good comedy sketch, Romantic Comedy lands plenty of punchlines and has lots to say about “how we live now.” But more than that, it’s a compelling story about learning to push past self-doubt and recognize those ready to love us just as we are. And who couldn’t use a bit more of that in their life?

Member ratings (22,161)

  • Marisa H.

    New Harmony, UT

    4 ⭐️ “But human beings aren’t static images. We’re dynamic and kinetic, and it’s like i’ve said before—right away I wanted to talk to you, and every time since… i’ve wanted to keep talking to you.”

  • Desirai L.

    Orlando, FL

    Romantic Comedy was funny, honest and real. Noah was such a great character and a perfect example of how much better life can be after therapy. The SNLish behind the scenes were fascinating too. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • Amanda D.

    Grove City, OH

    I ‘actually’ could not put this book down and devoured it in a weekend. Having a SNL esque backdrop was perfect for the Sally and Noah romance but also side characters, perfectly picturing each one.

  • Nicole H.

    Waltham, MA

    As a fan of SNL, this book was absolutely perfect for me. It was smart, and funny, and while the MC’s had their flaws, they were both quite likable. I also loved that the MC’s were in their late-30’s.

  • Jessy C.

    Washington, DC

    Loved this! Read it super fast. When I wouldn’t be reading I’d think about Noah and Sally’s flirty banter. The “behind the scenes” aspect was fun and the covid element made it real. Great balance!

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Contemporary fiction
View all
The Last Love Note
Anita de Monte Laughs Last
Honey
The Leftover Woman
Interesting Facts about Space
Bye, Baby
Swan Song
The Connellys of County Down
Joe Nuthin’s Guide to Life
Jackpot Summer
Adelaide
The Collected Regrets of Clover
Again and Again
Evil Eye
Black Cake
Maame
Romantic Comedy
Someone Else’s Shoes
Once There Were Wolves
We Are the Brennans
The Bad Muslim Discount
What Comes After
Olga Dies Dreaming
Last Summer at the Golden Hotel
Monster in the Middle
My Dark Vanessa
Nine Perfect Strangers
The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany
The Girl with Stars in Her Eyes
Honey Girl
In Every Mirror She's Black
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband?
Sankofa
The Unsinkable Greta James
The Love of My Life
The Five-Star Weekend
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
The Wishing Game
Behold the Dreamers
The Mothers
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk
Little Fires Everywhere
The Music Shop
Queenie
Where’d You Go, Bernadette
The Reckless Oath We Made
Dear Edward
When We Were Vikings
The Girl with the Louding Voice
Anxious People
A Good Neighborhood
Big Summer
All Adults Here
Happy & You Know It
Friends and Strangers
The Comeback
True Story
The Last Story of Mina Lee
Troubles in Paradise
White Ivy
This Close to Okay
The Chicken Sisters
The Prophets
The Kindest Lie
In a Book Club Far Away
The Other Black Girl
Apples Never Fall
A Quiet Life
We Are the Light
The Most Likely Club
The Fortunes of Jaded Women
When We Were Bright and Beautiful
The Hotel Nantucket