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The Perfect Elizabeth: A Tale of Two Sisters
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The Perfect Elizabeth: A Tale of Two Sisters

2.96  ·  Rating details ·  473 ratings  ·  52 reviews
This modern-day Sense and Sensibility is a witty story about two sisters: Liza, a would-be poet who spends miserable days as a legal secretary; and Bette a graduate student writing her dissertation on Toast in the English Novel. Bette has taken to eating only what the characters she is writing about would eat: boiled eggs on toast, minemeat, nice cups of tea...Liza's a bit ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published November 5th 2001 by St. Martin's Press (first published July 1st 2000)
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Average rating 2.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  473 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 rated it liked it
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 highly ...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 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Dec 01, 2007 rated it liked it
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 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Jun 16, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was recommended by my wonderful friend. Read it a while back, but I know I liked it!
Aug 20, 2007 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Nia Forrester
Oct 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
The modern Sense and Sensibility. Loved it.
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Delightful fun read. Full of food and literary references. Cozy.
Michelle Nunes
Very quirky and fun. if you have a sister you will enjoy it.
Jun 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: contemporary
A contemporary Sense and Sensibility is a story of two sisters: Liza, who can't seem to settle on a vocation (Is dog-walking a career?); and Bette a graduate student writing her dissertation on Toast in the English Novel. When Bette finds her soul mate and moves to the West Coast, Liza must confront the issues she has avoided: her lukewarm relationship with a cheating actor, the desire to write and publish, weight gain/loss and more. She comes to realize that the most important relationship in h ...more
Mary Lou
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
Just okay - it took awhile to connect with the characters.
Linda Lusby
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
An ok read, slightly entertaining but pretty predictable. Bought it really because of its title. Will now pass on to Elizabeth!
Jun 09, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf1
Made it to page 48 before I decided that my time was worth more.
Maria Johnson Darby
An entertaining, easy read. Perfect for this time of year.
Sandy Wilson
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Didn’t really care what happened to the characters, no empathy for any of them
Feb 06, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: chick-lit
Quick chick lit read. It’s okay, not great. The “modern Sense & Sensibility” description is utter nonsense.
May 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 28, 2015 rated it really liked it

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 rated it did not like it
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
Mar 09, 2010 rated it it was ok
"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. ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it liked it
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.
Julie Defilippi
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Jun 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
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.
Oct 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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???
Feb 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Ok chick-lit. It got annoying how the main character couldn't find a purpose in life and then ended up with the same incompatible guy she was with in the beginning. ...more
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