Thursday, 22 March 2018

Book Review - Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest



For Gilmore Girls fans, Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest is a must read in-depth look at the different themes and relationships interwoven in the television series. 
Continue reading to find out more about the book, my thoughts and whether or not I would recommend it. 



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Quick Info


Coffee at Lukes: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest
Edited by Jennifer Cruise with Leah Wilson
Published by: Benbella Books, INC.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays
Format: E-Book (Amazon Kindle)
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars on Goodreads

Synopsis

"In the fall of 2000, Gilmore Girls premiered on the WB and viewers were introduced to the quirky world of Stars Hollow and the Gilmores who had made it their home, mother-daughter best friends Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. With the show in its seventh season on the fledgling CW, Coffee at Luke's is the perfect look at what has made the show such a clever, beloved part of the television landscape for so long.
What are the risks of having your mother be your best friend? How is Gilmore Girls anti-family, at least in the traditional sense? What’s a male viewer to do when he finds both mother and daughter attractive? And how is creator Amy Sherman-Palladino like Emily Gilmore? From the show’s class consciousness to the way the characters are shaped by the books they read, the music they listen to and the movies they watch, Coffee at Luke's looks at the sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking underpinnings of smart viewer’s Tuesday night television staple, and takes them further into Stars Hollow than they’ve ever been before."
Retrieved from Goodreads.com



My Thoughts


As a HUGE fan of Gilmore Girls this book was the perfect way to delve further into the lives of Lorelai and Rory and the quirky townies of Stars Hollow.

Separated into five thematic sections, Coffee at Luke's covers everything!


"It All Comes Out in Moron: Personal Relationships"


The book opens with essays discussing the theme of feminism in Gilmore Girls and the idea that Rory and Paris are soulmates.

I was 100% aware that Gilmore Girls was unlike any other show on television in the early 2000s in terms of how they portrayed women (a single mother who ditched her rich upbringing to live independently from the world she grew up in). It was interesting to read Jennifer Armstrong's essay "Boys Not Allowed" in which she points out that the men in GG are completely secondary and do not have a significant role in their story. Men like Christopher, Jason Stiles, or Max Medina come and go out of Lorelai's life but there is no real focus and character development in terms of the men in GG.

Secondly, I thought Stephanie Whiteside's analysis of Paris and Rory's relationship in "When Paris Met Rory" funny more than anything. We all know Rory and Paris are complete opposites and their relationship is problematic. However, according to Whiteside, they are more alike then we think, intelligent, motivated, mature for their age, and competitive. She argues that these similarities make Paris and Rory a perfect match, platonic soul mates. It was entertaining to read an analysis discussing the similarities and differences between two characters, especially one so outrageous as Paris Gellar and then understand that the author is pointing out that "together, Paris and Rory would be an unstoppable couple. All they'd have to do is realize it". It had never occurred to me, but it did to Whiteside.

"The Other Relationships: Parenting"


This section focused on mother daughter relationships, including Rory and Lorelai, Lorelai and Emily, an in depth look at Emily's character, and an analysis of Rory's three dads (Christopher, Richard and Luke).

Emily's character, when looked at through the lens of old money, New England culture and tradition, makes her seem less of a harsh snooty rich woman. Charlotte Fullerton, who had grown up in New England, feels that she understands Emily's character better than anybody having dealt with a society that judged you based on where you went to school (Ivy League?) or who your ancestors are (did they arrive on the Mayflower?). Through that perspective we get a better understanding of Emily's personality, what is important to her in life and how that has shaped her actions.

I also found the essay "My Three Dads" by Miellyn Fitzwater interesting. Chistopher may be Rory's biological father but as Fitzwater points out, she was raised by three male figures who all contributed to her life in different ways. Christopher, out of his own failure to be there, taught Rory responsibility. Luke provided Rory with stability and taught her honor. Richard helped grow Rory's sense of ambition and love for education. It was a good comparison of the three men and their role in Rory's development as a successful adult.

"Second Hamlet to the Right: Stars Hollow"


This was by far the most lengthy section of the book. Essays within this section looked at whether or not Stars Hollow businesses could survive in the real modern world (which was a comical read), a look at Stars Hollow as a world within a snow globe, and nostalgia for New England architecture, weather and history that is replicated in the series.

Within the four essays in this chapter, the thought that stuck with me the most is Jill Winters' "Happiness Under Glass". In this essay she looks at Lorelai's relationship with Stars Hollow and the world outside it, describing the town as being in a snow globe (perfect with happy characters, except Lorelai who can't reside in either). The idea that Lorelai tried to run away from her wealthy oppressive upbringing by running to Stars Hollow (which is the complete opposite, almost utopian) didn't fool Winter's. She argues that a small part of Lorelai always remains in the world she ran from and she is never 100% part of Stars Hollow.


"The Best Things in Life: Food, Books and Sex"


This was my favorite chapter, because food...and books! Any analysis of Gilmore Girls revolving around their unhealthy habit of eating copious amounts of food is my pleasure. 

"Reading, Rory and Relationships", written by Maryelizabeth Hart, shows how books and writing coincide with Rory's character development. I found this a very interesting analysis both as a fan of the character and a big bookworm. Thinking back through seasons 1-7, books and writing are an important part of Rory's development. Rory exchanges books with Dean who is not as ambitious as Rory, then she later meets Jess who is more on her bookworm level and later Logan who works on the Yale newspaper with her. 


"There's Reality and Then There's Lorelai: Gilmore Girls and the Real World"


Lastly, two more essays end the book: "Golden Age Gilmore Girls" and "Mama Don't Preach". 

As a history lover, I really enjoyed "Golden Age Gilmore Girls" by Chris McCubbin which compares the portrayal of the characters and the use of comedy with the screwball comedy of the 1930s. McCubbin describes the organizations in place that control how relationships and sex are portrayed in the media, pointing out that Gilmore Girls is unique in that writer Amy Sherman-Palladino was able to portray a character that is a single mother out of choice, not by divorce or widowing, which had not been done before (what would young women think?).



My Rating


I gave Coffee at Luke's: An Unauthorized Gilmore Girls Gabfest a 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I appreciated some of the essays more than others and the book only covers seasons 1-7 (not the Netflix revival) because it was published in 2007. 

I recommend this book for any Gilmore fanatic. The insights and opinions of the essay writers compiled in this book will show you Gilmore Girls like you have never thought about them before (and who doesn't want more Gilmore Girls). 

I can't wait to read Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham! Hoping it is as witty and quick as her character Lorelai Gilmore!

Which essay did you enjoy best? Leave a comment below! 

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