Three Days in Europe
I love romantic comedies. There are too few of them in comics (which is one reason I’ve been reading more manga, where the genre is more firmly established). When I saw the publicity for this screwball story, I was eager to try it, but I was disappointed.
It’s not that Three Days in Europe is a bad story, although it’s got some problems (of which more later). The problem is all the false advertising, from the cover quotes to the Barbie pink cover to the introduction. This book is more Ocean’s 11 than When Harry Met Sally…. It’s a heist caper, not a romance, an Elmore Leonard novel published with a Harlequin cover.
That affected my enjoyment of the story. The events author Antony Johnston was trying to interest me in seemed like distractions from what I was promised, until I reached the end and realized that the distractions were the real story. The rest, the romance, required taking an awful lot on faith, including the core idea that these two people should be together.
Jack is an ad exec; his live-in girfriend Jill works at an art gallery. They’ve been together for three years and have problems finding time for each other. All they do is fight, so to get a fresh start, each plans a surprise getaway for the other… on the same weekend.
Now bear in mind that we’ve never seen these people be good to each other. Even their presents have an air of “aren’t I smart and clever to arrange this exclusive gift for you?” So when they split up, each mistakenly going on the trip meant for the other, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they immediately sleep with the first attractive person they meet.
We also have to accept that supposedly clever Jack would stand around helping out an art thief once he realized he was brought into the middle of a robbery, and that a guy who’s at his desk all day could out-fight a hardened criminal. There are a few too many coincidences tying everything up nicely. With more good faith on my part and more accurate advertising on theirs, I’d be too interested in the story to notice or bother with the amount of disbelief I’m asked to suspend. As it is, the whole house of cards fell down as soon as I looked away, and I’m left with the taste of being lied to.
Actually, that’s a very accurate feeling for these characters. Everyone lies to everyone else, leading the reader to assume that when Jack and Jill (and isn’t THAT precious) get back together at the end to finish their romantic vacation, it’s just another convenient falsehood because it’s time for the happy ending, which is happy only because it’s supposed to be.