Laura Dave is not the kind of lady you have a quick conversation with. She's a foodie has the perfect place for you to stay in Big Sur, has the sensibility and startling questions of a therapist and the sense of humor and truth-telling of your very first best friend. She's the woman who you share your most embarrassing break-up story and gush, "We should go to Cabo together on a girlfriend trip!" after knowing five whole minutes under the influence of only one glass of Malbec.
Or maybe it's just me, crushing on a smart lady with stories to tell. Perhaps I was just completely wooed by her novels, "chick lit" that are what books about women's relationships should be -- clever, funny, relatable, and not predictable. USA Today says Laura Dave's newest release, The First Husband, could seem formulaic but that "Dave somehow manages to take what could have been schlocky and cliched and renders it playful, unpredictable and emotionally resonant." For a novel about a woman who gets suddenly dumped by her longtime boyfriend, stumbles into a bar and meets an adorable bartender, quickly marries him, and then is forced to choose between the two men, this is high praise. How many times have you read a book like this and successfully predicted the ending in the first ten pages? That doesn't happen here.
For that, I'm very willing to spill my stories and invite her on spring break.
In person (or at least on the phone, where I've both interviewed and had girlfriend-y conversations with Laura Dave that lasted a few hours each session), she carries that same quick with and interest in the details of other people's lives that show up in her first two novels, The Divorce Party and London is the Best City in America. She also shared that writing about divorce and break-ups seems kind of funny for an author who is engaged to be married and that TheKnot.com makes her nervous. Then when she asked if we could please replace our normal interview questions with the Proust Questionnaire...well, she had me.
The First Husband is a perfect summer read (even People mag says so) and you should probably just go ahead and throw The Divorce Party into your carry-on, too. After reading what Laura Dave spilled with us and just a few pages of her new book, I am pretty sure you will be drawing hearts around this author's name, too.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A glass of wine in Big Sur, California. With no other responsibilities.
Heights. And small talk.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Amelia Earhart. Or, at least, she is one I most want to be like. She lived her life fearlessly and hopefully. She marched to the beat of her own drum. She was pretty much a rock star in every way.
Which living person do you most admire?
Nora Ephron is up there. Her work has brought joy to so many people-and remains a guidepost, for me, of funny and heartfelt writing. I have also been thinking a lot about Oprah Winfrey during her goodbye month. She has done so much good. So much.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
How much I worry. It's almost a skill. It keeps me up at night! (And then that keeps me up at night.)
What is the trait you most deplore in others?Being small-minded.Being ungenerous. Whatever is exactly the opposite of being expansive and open.
What is your greatest extravagance?
The burricotta with braised artichokes, pine nuts, currants & mint pesto at Osteria Mozza. It is so delicious, they need to create a new word to describe the level of deliciousness.
What is your favorite journey?
Driving down the coast on Highway 1, with someone I love. Heading to Big Sur. Reaching Bixby Canyon Bridge, right when all of Big Sur's beauty starts to come into my view.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
On what occasion do you lie?
When I'm afraid of hurting someone's feelings.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
What is your greatest regret?
No regrets. Not allowed. (And by that I mean: too many to name!)
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Cheese. And my fiancé. Reverse the order.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I want to be able to sing. Really sing well. And I'd love to play the piano.
What is your current state of mind?
Happy to be home.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
That I had magic powers and I could protect them from everything. (So, I guess, more accurately, that's what I'd change about me.)
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I would do anything for the people I love.
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
A star on the Food Network. With a kitchen as lovely as Barefoot Contessa's.
What is your most treasured possession?
I have over a thousand books. I love all of them.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
A day where I forgot to be grateful.
Where would you like to live?
Where I live now-Santa Monica, California-is quickly climbing the charts.
What is your favorite occupation?
I'm sticking with the one I've got. For all the difficulties that go with writing, it is a magical way to spend one's days.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I'm a romantic. It impacts pretty much everything I do.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
Comfort in his own skin. Patience. A loving heart.
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
I like goodness and truthfulness-and I like a "girl's girl": someone who has had girlfriends their whole lives and values those bonds. Women who say: I have trouble getting along with other women. I don't know… maybe they've ran into some bad eggs, but-for my money-I trust a woman who has chosen to be good to women and has maintained female friendships whenever possible.
What do you most value in your friends?
Loyalty, fairness, and a good sense of humor. Even thinking about the sound of my closest friends' laughter brings a smile to my face.
Who are your favorite writers?
I'm going to pick just one of my favorites, Joan Didion, because I recently dove back into Slouching Towards Bethlehem-and can't believe how much it taught me, all over again. Didion's ability to distill complicated feelings down to their most understandable, realistic shape is a constant source of inspiration. And awe.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Let's say heroine: Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice. I will never get tired of that book.
What are your favorite names?
Many have shown up in my novels: I love the name Maggie. And Griffin. And Nate. Sadie always makes me happy too.
What is it that you most dislike?
Negativity. And faithlessness. It is toxic.
What is your motto?
Just breathe. Or: This too shall pass.
Or: This too shall pass, more quickly, if you breathe!
What author are you crushing on this summer?