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The Perfect Elizabeth: A Tale Of Two Sisters

2.98  ·  Rating Details ·  424 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Beloved in hardcover, The Perfect Elizabeth was a favorite among readers of Laura Zigman's Animal Husbandry, Anna Maxted's Getting Over It, and other wickedly funny books about smart young women falling in and out of love.Hailed "a luscious, frothy tale of Gen-X love" (USA Today), this modern-day Sense and Sensibility is a witty and hilarious novel about two sisters: Liza, ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 2000 by Thomas Dunne Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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The Perfect Elizabeth is a "chick lit" novel that just didn't work for me. Liza is an aspiring poet who has a miserable day job as a legal secretary, while her sister Bette is a literature student who teaches at a university while working on her dissertation; their names are both diminutives of Elizabeth, so that Liza, the narrator, feels as though they're "the broken parts of one perfect Elizabeth".

Liza and Bette go through various trials and tribulations to do with their jobs and their love l
Jan 17, 2011 Allybal rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: austen-esque
Liza & Bette's lovable sisterhood in The Perfect Elizabeth is a fun, easy read much likened to the folly in Jane Austen's Sense & Sensibility. I found this book in perfect condition on the shelf at a thrift store among a plethora of tattered, dusty volumes. My adoration of Miss. Austen solely influenced this purchase, which ended up being a complete joy. Took it too and from class for a day or two to read in between passing and found myself completely taken with these two girls and their ...more
Mary Pessaran
A nice surprise. At first, the writing threw me off, because the author gave us dialogue and action without much internal thought process or description of emotion and reactions. In that way, it was simpler than most books I've read, but I grew to like the unique structure of the writing.

It was also a surprise because it didn't follow a formula. When Eliza had boyfriend issues including his commitment phobia, it's easy to assume he'll be painted as the loser soon-to-be-ex boyfriend, so we shoul
Jan 02, 2009 Yuliya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was surprisingly excellent (surprisingly because I randomly picked it up from the library in the 5 minutes I had before Mary got fussy). I loved Eliza's character. Bette was very recognizable to me - I know at least one person who was studying food in 19th century English literature. Though a fast and enjoyable read, this book definitely has substance.
Dec 01, 2007 Lain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A more thoughtful chick lit book than most... but not nearly as entertaining as it could have been. Schmais is a talented writer, but there was a distance between her characters and the reader -- a distance that kept me from investing more emotion in them.
Apr 24, 2008 Reagan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ADORED this book the first time I read it, but it didn't hold up as well the 2nd time around. I'm finding that with a lot of books I initially fell in love with. Perhaps certain themes are more relevant and poignant at particular times in your life.
Nia Forrester
Oct 03, 2012 Nia Forrester rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The modern Sense and Sensibility. Loved it.
Jun 16, 2007 Paula rated it liked it
This was recommended by my wonderful friend. Read it a while back, but I know I liked it!
Feb 05, 2014 Jeanine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightful fun read. Full of food and literary references. Cozy.
Aug 20, 2007 Kimberly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
It's been a while since I read it, but I remember it being a perfect read for a weekend at the beach when you need a laugh.
Michelle Nunes
Very quirky and fun. if you have a sister you will enjoy it.
Mary Lou
Feb 19, 2017 Mary Lou rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Just okay - it took awhile to connect with the characters.
May 27, 2009 mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE PERFECT ELIZABETH (2000): a novel by Libby Schmais is well worth the time to read it. It is a quick read, not nearly as “deep” as “An Arrow’s Flight,” but at least it is, I think, an honest representation of The Human Condition. In this instance—a study of what could be called “The Wounded Well,” aka neurosis. It is a first novel, first person narrative, of a thirty-something female who struggles with the question of “Who am I” and where is my place in the world? There is insight into what i ...more
Erlyn Trinidad
Dec 30, 2012 Erlyn Trinidad rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got the book from a book sale and there had been multiple times that the book has been discounted. Initially it was tagged for P60.00, then P30.00 and then finally P20.00. And the cheapskate that I am, picked it up and thought what the heck, it's only P20.00. Alright, I got taken in by the cover photo (picture of a coffee cup) and then the overview, about the story about 2 sisters and how it is meant for anyone who has a sister or anyone who ever wanted to have a sister. And the latter refers ...more

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would - for one, I generally read fantasy, for two it deals with my biggest criticism for adult contemporary literature - it usually involves cheating, and characters who are generally unhappy and just kind of float through life doing nothing about that.

And we'll...thats this book to a tee. And yet I liked it. I think it's in part because it had an odd writing style that I'm not certain how I feel about but it was different and refreshing so I'll take it.
Jennifer Johnson
Oct 01, 2012 Jennifer Johnson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jane-austen
I spent the entire book trying to find parallels between The Perfect Elizabeth and Sense and Sensibility, but unfortunately, there wasn't much there beyond the presence of sisters. One sister kept her feelings to herself, like Elinor, but the rest didn't really tie in to Austen's novel. And forget "hilarious." Maybe it didn't match my taste in humor, but I found the narrative to be dry and monotone.

Read more of my review at
Layla Naficy
"The Perfect Elizabeth" is a sweet book about two-aged sisters finding their way in the world, working through professional, romantic and family drama. In this piece, Schmais paints quirky and yet familiar characters, which make the story worthwhile; however, I found these characters to be the only intriguing element of the novel. Honest and yet comforting in its relevance, "The Perfect Elizabeth" is a fun read, but in my mind, not a great piece of literature.
Jul 20, 2013 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cute fluff of a read about two sisters, Liza and Bette (making up the Perfect Elizabeth), written by an Elizabeth herself.

Love lost, love love love and a wedding at the end. All's well that ends well.

Complete with "Oh, let me try to write a story." Naturally, the story is accepted by a movie studio with rights to be made into a cartoon and the protagonist gets a kill fee of $65,000.

Light, quick summer reading.
Stacy Mar
Jun 05, 2015 Stacy Mar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read quite a few negative comments about this book, but I found it really interesting and engaging.

Perhaps it is because I could relate so well to both the main characters, but I found myself anticipating what was going to happen next.

I read the book in less than a day and was quite happy with the turn of events.
May 21, 2016 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was good, not sure if I would read it again though. Half the story was about sisters, while the other half of the story was about romance. Some chapters were amazing, other chapters seemed to drag on. On the dragging chapters I found myself taking a lot of breaks and getting really distracted.
Julie Defilippi
Apr 21, 2015 Julie Defilippi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 28, 2014 E rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A very fast and fluffy read. I could skip a lot of paragraphs where I knew what the protagonist would be droning on about. One of those books you find lying around somewhere and read because its there.
I was said to be related to Sense and Sensibility, but I didn't see too many connections other than the personality of the older sister, possibly. Even though I read it in one night, I'm not sure that I liked the characters and their choices very much, though there were some funny bits.
Oct 14, 2014 Kelly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern, adult
The ending seemed muddy, and not quite definitive....

Love the quote from it: "She trusts novels, not life. In novels, things work out according to plan; in life the plot is entirely unmanageable." Tattoo someday maybe???
Jun 09, 2009 Julia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julia by: best friend
Loved the character...made me think about my life and relationships. Took some time for me to connect in the beginning, but picked up significantly later. Good stuff.
Mar 24, 2015 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-adult
What a colossal waste of time. Seriously, one of the most boring books I have ever read. No problems were ever really solved and the ending was deplorable. Ugh, my head hurts..
Apr 08, 2008 Sonia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fortunately, it was a short book or I wouldn't have bothered to finish it.
Klaudyna Z.
I don't even remember reading this book. Not very memorable, I guess.
Sonya C
I liked this book because it reminded me of what it is like to have a sister and family. It is a novel but somehow, it made you feel it is real because it has "everyday" feeling.
On the way home I stopped by the "take one, leave one" book nook at The Stata Center and picked this up. It's apparently a modern retelling of Sense and Sensibility.
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