As women line up to see "Sex and the City" on the big screen, one of the HBO series' writers is debuting her novel about - what else? - dating and the single woman.
Aside from her career in television, Liz Tuccillo is best known for co-writing the best seller "He's Just Not That Into You" with Greg Behrendt. That tough-love dating manual urged women to stop sitting by the phone and forget about the men who aren't pursuing them. "He might be lying in the hospital with amnesia, but more likely, he's just not that into you," is one sample bit of truth-telling.
Unfortunately, the women in Tuccillo's new novel, "How to Be Single" (Atria Books, $24.95), do not seem to have read that book. Let's start from the beginning: Our story is narrated by Julie Jensen, 38, a New Yorker who is fed up with endless nights on the town in search of Mr. Right.
After a disastrous girls' night out that ends with a bar fight and a trip to the emergency room, Julie sets out to find out if women in other countries know the secret to being happily single.
She learns about one-night-stands in Rio de Janeiro, gigolos in Bali, a man-drought in Sydney and open marriages in Paris. At the same time, she deals with her own relationship troubles as she becomes increasingly involved with a married man.
Meanwhile, Julie's four single friends are having problems with love back in New York. The book feels a little crowded, and Julie's New York friends don't develop into the fully fleshed-out characters they could be.
Tuccillo doesn't flinch from her characters' bleaker moments; "How to Be Single" at times feels a little too bleak. *