Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bethenny Frankel's Skinnydipping Puts Fictional Spin on Reality Star's Life

Part of the fun of reading Bethenny Frankel's newest book Skinnydipping is matching events and people in the novel to things from the reality star's own life. Although this is Frankel's first book of fiction after several nonfiction titles, main character Faith Brightstone is undoubtedly based on Frankel herself.

Frankel relates Faith's story from her early twenties into her thirties as she struggles to find herself and a place in the world where she fits. Traveling first to Los Angeles from New York City and then back to NYC, Faith tries on careers as though they're hats. First there is an effort to become an actress, then a stint as a bakery owner, and finally, a spot on a reality television show modeled after The Apprentice, which Frankel herself appeared on early in her reality television career.

The comparisons between Faith's fictional world and Frankel's real-life one don't end with similar career and geographic choices. Faith has a mouth that won't quit, much like the real-life Frankel; she adopts a dog named Muffin, modeled after Frankel's own pet Cookie; and both the fictional character and her real-life counterpart suffer from a long history of dysfunctional family relationships.

In spite of what could end up as one long, drawn out, fictionalized version of Frankel's life thus far, Skinnydipping manages to be quite the delightful read. I found myself rooting for Faith, even as she seemed to create her own problems (starting with her never-knows-when-to-shut mouth). I have long been a fan of Frankel, in all her... well, frankness. On first Bravo's Housewives of New York City and then later her own television series, Bethenny Getting Married and Bethenny Ever After, Frankel tells it like it is, doesn't suffer fools, and genuinely cares about the people who matter in her life.

Skinnydipping is a fun read, perfect for summer lounging by the pool or on the beach. Although Frankel fans will be obvious choices for the novel, I really think readers who haven't watched her reality shows will still enjoy the book. Faith is a feisty main character who has flaws that make her human, but a heart that won't quit. Readers will find themselves rooting for Faith, especially in the last half of the book as she strives to win the title of Domestic Goddess on the Apprentice-style reality competition.

In addition to Skinnydipping, Bethenny Frankel is the author of several nonfiction lifestyle and nutrition books, including Naturally Thin, The Skinnygirl Dish, and A Place of Yes. She is also the creator of an entire line of Skinnygirl products, including a health and beauty line, a line of alcohol, and a shapewear line for Macy's. Her newest television endeavor, a daytime talk show called simply bethenny, debuted this week in six major television markets.

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