Annabelle Thong by Imran Hashim

I have to admit that I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the idea not just of a Singaporean version of chick lit in the style of Bridget Jones, but also because the author is male. Will he be able to draw me in the way other female authors like Helen Fielding have done in the past? 

The premise of Annabelle Thong is familiar enough - Single school teacher, Annabelle Thong decides to pack her bags and move to Paris, supposedly to pursue a Masters in International Relations. In reality, her move to the City of Love represents a last ditch attempt on her part at snaring herself a man. There, she encounters rioting, culture shock and dating mishaps in the form of her charming French professor, Patrick Dudoigt. 

Anyone who has read Annabelle Thong will tell you that it is laugh-out-loud funny in some parts and delivers all the drama typical of novels of the chick lit genre. The witty, vulnerable, yet self-aware female protagonist also successfully endears herself to the readers. For me, what made Annabelle Thong different is that it manages to be entertaining, while addressing serious issues, such as racism, the clash of different cultures, and even how Singaporeans view foreign workers, which is the topic of Annabelle’s thesis. A light and easy read with serious underlying themes that give it a bit more ‘meat’, this novel would make a perfect companion for the beach.

by Dawn Tan