Here are some of the great reviews of Confessions of a Liberal Lover. There's also an excerpt which I'm sure will make you smile. These reviews have been adjusted to accommodate the change of Maud's name to Alice. Maud Muller decided it would be a good idea since everyone she knew kept insisting the book must be an autobiography.
Always considered a smart but headstrong child, Alice couldn’t quite fit into her sister’s perfect shoes or get passed the strain in the relationship with her father. At the age of six, Alice wins a small gargoyle at a church fair that will become her sole confidante. At the age of thirteen her discovery of historical romance novels roots the foundation on her hunt for love. Where, just like in one of her novels, she is determined to find the handsome, virile man who she is to find everlasting love with. During her junior year of high school, her small gargoyle speaks to her for the first time after the end of a date with a groping senior. This cements him as her voice of reason when it comes to dating, sex and the men in her life.
At nineteen, Alice, in a show of independence, moves in with a co-worker from her job at the health company, thus beginning her step into adulthood. She manages to settle down, finish college and snag a top career as a consultant. Along the way she meets several potential “the one” Her lovers range from college pre-med prep, country charmer, handsome attorney, to golden boy from the past. Yet Maud slowly realizes she is losing herself in her efforts to conform to their lifestyles. Tired of her search, Alice decides to put the breaks down for a while when it comes to finding Mr. Right. Even as her baby meter is ticking, she studiously focuses on career and self improvement. Then, as if by magic, a man who might just be her prince charming shows up in her life even if he isn’t exactly like the leading hero from her novels.
CONFESSIONS OF A LIBERAL LOVER is a poignant story of a woman searching for the virile handsome man of her own just like in the historical romance novels she came across as a teen. E.M. Muller does a wonderful job bringing her lead character to life. I began reading with peaked interest at the storyline and soon found myself drawn in. It felt like reading a personal journal of a good friend who'd laid herself on the line. The addition of Alice's unique conscience - the little gargoyle she took home as a child - made the story all the more memorable. The road to the one is much more than a series of fluffy interludes. It happens to pick up on some life lessons including personal growth, self acceptance, and that the image of a true prince may not always be quite what’s depicted in novels. This was one of the best chick lits I've read in a while. I think every woman could use a little gargoyle on her dresser every now and then.
E.M. Muller's Confessions of a Liberal Lover is poignantly funny from start to finish. Not just a story of finding the right guy, but of finding oneself.
After failing to live up to expectations one too many times, Alice leaves home at 19. She is thrust into the world of full time work, part times school, and one disastrous relationship after another. Which includes such enjoyable calamities as receiving a rifle instead of a ring, a delightfully disastrous wedding, and the most perfectly comical divorce. Along for the ride is Alice's pet gargoyle, who dispenses wisdom, advice, and wit, all rolled into one. Maud's gargoyle steadfastly refuses to let her give up on herself or settle for less than she deserves. Forget the fairy godmothers, ladies; what we all really need is a gargoyle.
Alice's sexual encounters run the gambit from Young Republicans, mishaps with the missionary position, to riding cowboys, and much more. From faking orgasms to fellatio, nothing is taboo. While never explicit, Muller's frank honesty and witty portrayal of sex will have you laughing with delight and cringing in understanding.
With a sassy and smart heroine, and a gargoyle that's part fairy godmother and part Jiminy Cricket, Confessions of a Liberal Lover is the perfect book for any girl who ever felt overshadowed by a sibling, misunderstood by a parent, or turned herself inside out for a guy.
Alice was thirteen when she became addicted to romance novels and decided all she needed to make her life complete was a virile, incredibly handsome man to stir her to the depths of insatiable passion. So she spends the next thirty years looking for just that. Accompanying Alice on her odyssey to find the Perfect Lover is the gargoyle, a small figurine she wins at a church fair. Not at first welcome since she really wanted to win a gold, heart-shaped locket, the little guy gets an indescribable hold on her and eventually becomes her confidant in her search for the virile, incredibly handsome man.
Sometimes, however, Alice feels she could do without the gargoyle’s advice. No matter who she chooses, no matter how much she thinks he’s engendered the passion she believes she needs, the gargoyle always finds some flaw: Don, the high school senior and one of the few to have his own car; the pick-up in a bar, with whom she loses her virginity; Scott Blinderson, too perfect to be true…and he isn’t. While her sister finds a man and marries, Alice stumbles through life—finding a job, moving out of her parents home to a wreck of an apartment with a fellow employee, eventually becoming a successful business woman—and through it all, she still searching for Mr. Virile and Incredibly Handsome…and always her choices fall short of the mark, and always the gargoyle is there to set her straight and get her back on the trail again.
So Alice keeps looking…
MY OPINION: This is an enjoyable story, full of straight talk by Alice who tells it from her POV and pithy remarks from the gargoyle. The inanimate creature can be considered Alice's conscience, or at least that part of herself really acknowledging the truth, as opposed to her conscious self who continues to search for the Golden Fleece of a mythical hunk appearing on so many book covers. It’s funny and entertaining and oh so disappointing as each time, Alice's Mr. Right turns out to have clay feet, sometimes up to his knees. I always kept hoping she’d turn that corner and there he’d be, just as perfect as she wants. We should all have a gargoyle in our lives.
The ending, by the way, is totally unexpected.
Here's the excerpt.
Chapter One: Dear Old Dad
Once upon a time, I had a lot of trouble holding on to my lovers. I’m not talking about holding on in a literal sense; they weren’t slippery and there’s nothing wrong with my hands. I’m talking about holding on in an emotional sense. Ridiculous as it sounds, I used to think the reason for this was political, since I lean to the left and most of my lovers have been conservative Republicans.
Reality eventually intervened, however, and I accepted that the problems with my love life had less to do with politics and more to do with the lousy relationship I had with my father when I was growing up—and that my most trusted friend and advisor was a gargoyle.
As far as Dad is concerned, it was clear right from the start we weren’t going to get along. Mom said at six months I was throwing my bottles at him and at fifteen months mouthing words sounding suspiciously like toddler obscenities. When I was four, I decided our family wasn’t big enough for the both of us so I ran away from home.
Home was a three-bedroom brick ranch in a middle-class neighborhood that served as a buffer between Brightmore, a rundown area of dilapidated, boxlike frame houses, and Rosedale Park, a gated community of impressive Tudor-style mansions. Most of the houses in Brightmore had dirt front yards filled with plastic toys and rusting pickup trucks. The front yards in my neighborhood had nice lawns, neatly trimmed shrubs, and an occasional oak, elm, or maple tree. The homes in Rosedale Park sat well back from the road on beautifully landscaped grounds tended by the Mexicans who lived in Brightmore and drove the rusty trucks.
One morning after Dad left for work, I stuffed some of my clothes in a plastic bag and tied it onto the back of my tricycle with shoelaces. Cruising down the driveway, the wind blowing through my bowl haircut, I could smell the sweet scent of freedom in the air. At the end of the driveway, I turned north onto the city sidewalk and peddled top speed towards the corner.
The corner was the proverbial point of no return. Pulling my trike over the curb into the street was a capital offense. Once I did it, I could never go home again. I was sitting there contemplating my options when Mom caught up with me. Sensing my indecision, she decided to make like a lobbyist and offer me a bribe. The deal was if I agreed to abort my escape attempt, she would take me and my older sister Sybil to the Dairy Queen. Evidently, I found the prospect of an ice cream cone more enticing than freedom, because I turned my trike around and peddled home, licking my chops in anticipation.
My sister Sybil, a Goldilocks look-alike with long blond hair, big blue eyes and plump, perpetually rosy cheeks, was the bane of my childhood. Although she never seemed that smart to me, she managed to leave me in the dust when report card time rolled around. Her cards were usually accompanied by a note from a teacher gushing about what a pleasure it was to have her in their class. Mom insisted on reading the notes aloud, hanging on every nauseating word.
This was followed by Dad making a big show of taking $5 out of his wallet and handing it to Sybil as he grumbled how she was going to put him in the poorhouse. Once Sybil had received sufficient recognition for her outstanding academic achievement, Mom would hand Dad my card and all hell would break loose.
Life would have been a lot easier if I hadn’t grown up in the shadow of an older sister everyone seemed to think was perfect. I don’t think Sybil ever broke a rule, told a lie or mouthed off to anyone in her life. Nothing irritated me more than a teacher calling out my name on the first day of school and then adding, in a voice oozing with cheerful enthusiasm, “Oh, how nice! You must be Sybil’s younger sister.” It didn’t take long for the poor wretch to realize I was nothing like my sister.
In addition to having Sybil for a sister, the fact I was smarter than my Dad didn’t make life any easier for me. “The trouble with you, Alice,” he said at least a thousand times, “is you’re too smart for your own good.” Unfortunately, my superior intellect didn’t help much when we squared off, since my only weapon was a rapier wit, while Dad had allowance retention, grounding and corporal punishment in his arsenal. The allowance and grounding stuff didn’t faze me until I was a teenager, but I hated those damn spankings with a passion.
I’m a person with a pain threshold so low I cry at the possibility of pain. I absolutely abhor physical violence and firmly believe every time a mom or dad spanks their kid, they’re sending a coded message proclaiming, “It’s okay to hit”—smack-smack-smack —“someone you love” —smack-smack-smack —“if they tick you off.”
Eventually, it dawned on me that unless I was trying to earn credits toward a degree in masochism from the college of lifelong stupidity, I should keep my big mouth shut. The problem was once I stopped butting heads with Dictator Dad, I began taking out my anger and frustration on Mom, Sybil, my classmates, teachers and anyone else who wandered in range of my high-caliber tongue, which I kept cocked and ready to fire at a moment’s notice. My chronic hostilitis, the medical term for the disorder from which I suffered, resulted in my becoming the first girl in my elementary school to win both the title of Miss Unpopularity and The Girl Most Often Sent to the Principal’s Office. I spent so much time with the principal, we became great chums. Although he never admitted it, I suspect he secretly admired my extraordinary verbal alacrity.
Not surprisingly, I spent the majority of my free time alone. This explains why I became so addicted to reading. Of course this was decades before readers could achieve instant gratification via Internet downloads of e-books. To feed my habit, I had to walk five blocks to the library, check out all the books I could carry and stagger home under their considerable weight. After I had partaken of all they had to offer, I’d return the empties and repeat the process.
Turning myself into a bookworm was the first and most pleasurable of the many transformations I’ve undergone during my life. I was elated when Mom succumbed to the wiles of a door-to-door book salesman. Although Dad, who never once accused Mom of being too smart, wasn’t happy, he didn’t want to hurt her feelings. His only comment was the ridiculously overpriced collection of the works of Mark Twain, Pearl Buck, and Lowell Thomas would look great on the bookshelves he was building in the basement. As soon as the books arrived, I started reading and didn’t stop until I’d devoured every one of them, including Thomas’s horribly graphic Wreck of the Dumaru.
My life-long addiction to historical romance novels began when I was thirteen. This is the genre that puts forth the hypothesis all a woman needs to be happy is for a virile, incredibly handsome man to come along and ravage her until she is consumed by a passion she didn’t know she possessed…or could feel… or something like that. How my adolescent heart would pound every time the heroine quivered at some virile, incredibly handsome man’s touch. Of course, the women in these stories were invariably the most beautiful creatures to walk the earth since the start of the Cenozoic Era. They were so good looking both heroes and villains alike were overcome with lust every time one of these beauties sashayed by, their petticoats and satin skirts rustling as they passed.
It didn’t take long for me to realize I needed a virile, incredibly handsome man of my very own. But finding someone fitting that description isn’t easy when you’re in the eighth grade, so I did what women do when the man of their dreams isn’t available—I settled. The boy I settled on was Walter Silva. Walt and the lovely Kathy Crawford had just broken up, so I summoned all the courage I could muster and asked Walt to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. I could tell he was less than thrilled by the invitation, but the important thing was he said “yes.”
Mom understood a girl’s first dance falls into the rite-of-passage category. It wasn’t easy, but she managed to talk old Daddy Cheapskate into paying for a new dress. Unfortunately, she suffered some sort of severe mental disconnect. We ended up with a dress from the woman’s department that was, without a doubt, the ugliest dress in the world. The damn thing was the color of bile with a cowl collar and pleated skirt that hung well below my knees. I had serious doubts about buying the dress, but it was on sale and Mom confused me with unfamiliar terms like simple lines and nice tailoring. The truth is, I trusted Mom and she sent me to my first dance looking like a short middle-aged housewife with no boobs.
The plan was Walt would come to my house so we could walk to the dance together. He started snickering when he saw me and took off like a shot as soon as we got to the school. I finally tracked him down in the gym talking to Kathy, who was dressed in a frilly little pink frock, no doubt purchased in the junior department.
Apparently, the only reason Walt had agreed to go to the dance with me was to keep an eye on Kathy—who had come to the dance to keep an eye on Walt. As soon as they set eyes on each other, all was forgiven. They spent the evening dancing and sneaking out into the hallway to play kissy face. I spent the evening standing with my back against the wall in my bile-colored old lady dress, watching with daggers in my eyes. I don’t know how Kathy’s date spent his time, but since he didn’t punch Walt in the nose, I figured he must be a total wimp. I would have punched Kathy in the nose, but as I mentioned previously, I abhor physical violence.
Since Kathy was a member of my Girl Scout troop, I decided to confront her at the next meeting to let her know it wasn’t cool to steal another girl’s date. I had just begun articulating the specifics of my beef with her when the other girls in the troop jumped to her defense like a herd of angry lemmings. The way they saw it, Walt was Kathy’s boyfriend. Anyone with a brain would have realized they were going to get back together.
The next thing I knew, they were taking a vote on whether it was wrong for me to have asked Walt to the dance without checking with Kathy first. The result was a unanimous vote in the affirmative, with me abstaining. Once they were in a voting mood, there was no stopping them. Democracy has a tendency to do that to people. To my horror, I heard some idiot ask, “How many think Kathy is cuter than Alice?” The outcome of this vote was also unanimous, with me voting in the affirmative, because she really was cuter than me. Kathy abstaining because she didn’t want to appear conceited. That night, I told Mom there was no way I was selling those damn cookies again and I turned in my merit badges.
Not having a circle of supportive female friends, coupled with the impact on my psyche of reading all those romance novels, sealed my fate. By the time I was in high school, I was so boy crazy I’d skip school if I was having a bad hair day. Attracting the attention of the opposite sex became the most important thing in my life— with the possible exception of chocolate almond ice cream and Milky Ways. Why did I care if the other girls shunned me as long as there were virile, incredibly handsome pimply-faced, hormone-crazed teenage boys lusting after me?
Once I began dating in earnest, my repeated curfew violations didn’t sit well with Dad. He began sounding like a stuck vinyl record. “As long as you live under my roof, you’ll abide by my rules. As long as you live under my roof, you’ll abide by my rules. As long as you…”
Since I was such a smart girl, it wasn’t hard to come up with a solution to the problem. What I need was a roof of my own. My folks expected me to continue to live at home after I graduated from high school and enroll in the state university like Sybil. Instead, I got a full-time job working for a health insurance company. A few months later, the gargoyle and I made a dash for freedom.