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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

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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, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LightRead

    Light read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Quirky


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Movieish



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?

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Romantic Comedy


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?

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Member ratings (21,664)

  • 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. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Lisa P.

    Scottsdale, AZ

    Just extraordinarily wonderful! Definitely this author’s best book. I read it in an afternoon and I have to say this is just the most delightful book I’ve read in ages! It’s a very unique love story

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