The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty


For me this book had an interesting premise and subject that I like- mainly beauty and people’s perceptions of beauty. It also had a taste of magical realism about it but ultimately in the end the book didn’t work for me and I was disappointed.

The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty is really about two characters. Lily is horribly ugly in unfixable ways but she can create beautiful music including music that can get people to buy anything. So naturally she wants to create a masterpiece that will make her unrequited love think she is a masterpiece herself. Barb meanwhile is supposedly mind-numbingly beautiful but is covering up her incredible beauty with wigs, bad teeth and a fat suit. Though she does like to pull it off in bars and humiliate men who scorn ugly Barb. I actually liked Barb at first and they do give her a suitably traumatic reason to be in the suit.

But Barb, or at least her story, is also the big problem for me. The two main pieces of the book really center on her. There’s a let’s stop a murder plot that came off more like a farce than anything. Seriously maybe it was supposed to but I had a hard time believing anyone could be so ridiculous. Then at the end a showdown with a gunman in which her beauty hides her and her friends go on and on about how wonderful she is.

Without getting into too many spoilers maybe it was the character of Barb that really bugged me because the “magical” touches really worked in Lily’s story and read very fairy tale like instead of silly. So actually in the end if I could have excised a lot of the Barb stuff and emphasized more of the Lily stuff I would have liked the book a lot better.

But I do give the book vast amounts of credit for going with the important theme that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it’s value in the end, especially in terms of the heart, is probably the least important thing imaginable.

Recommend: No, it just didn’t work for me and my dislike of so many things involving Barb’s story and a suspension of disbelief that needed to be too high put me off it in the end.

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