Stuck in Downward Dog: A Novel by Chantel SimmonsStuck in Downward Dog: A Novel by Chantel Simmons

Stuck in Downward Dog: A Novel

byChantel Simmons

Paperback | June 30, 2008

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Mara Brennan is about to unravel. Three days after her twenty-eighth birthday, her boyfriend dumps her, leaving her with nothing but a basement apartment, a futon and a pile of unpaid bills. On top of that, her job, working as a receptionist at a cosmetic surgery clinic, is a nightmare: her boss is a tyrant, and her friends have gotten ahead of her in the game of life. Mara realizes it's time for an identity makeover. She devises the OM List, a personal pathway to perfection inspired by her best friends, Olivia and Mitz, and her newfound love for yoga. But instead of finding the perfect job, getting the perfect body and cooking the perfect meal, Mara hilariously tries and fails at all the things she thinks will make her the sophisticated grown-up she wants to be. An unforgettable comic debut about how to get unstuck when you're caught in a rut.

Praise for Stuck in Downward Dog:

"On par with what real women go through, Stuck in Downward Dog is a been-there, done-that fantastic read that leaves us rooting for Mara and wishing water weight on pretty much everyone else. We laughed, we cried and we even held plank position for thirty seconds longer than normal to show our support." -Sweetspot.ca

"Simmons inserts an intriguing tweak to the existing chick-lit formula. Instead of setting up a romance as the ultimate goal of the novel, the story instead focuses on Mara's personal achievement in the wake of the wreckage of her relationship... A refreshingly realistic (and, some may argue, feminist) take that women sick of the same old romance-defined shtick will relish." -Whats on Winnipeg

"Quirky, endearing, wry and zeitgeist-savvy, Mara Brennan is a chick-lit heroine of the highest order. Too bad we couldn't tell Mara right from the start that her foibles are her strength, and her curvaceousness, her beauty and her zaniness are her great organizing principles. Then again, that wouldn't have been nearly as much fun. Chantel Simmons is an energetic young author with an admirably shameless sense of fun." -Louisa McCormack, author of Six Weeks to Toxic

CHANTEL SIMMONS is an author, editor and consumer trends tracker. Her first novel, Stuck in Downward Dog, was a Winnipeg Free Press bestseller, a Chatelaine Best Beach Book and Book of the Month, and a Vancouver Sun Editor's Choice. Chantel has worked at ELLE Canada, Sweetspot.ca, TV Guide, Elevate and The Toronto Sun, and has contribu...
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Title:Stuck in Downward Dog: A NovelFormat:PaperbackDimensions:264 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.7 inPublished:June 30, 2008Publisher:Key Porter BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1554700485

ISBN - 13:9781554700486

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Reviews

Rated 3 out of 5 by from The ending is almost worth all the whining of the main character! I had a hard time rating this book. For the first one-half to two-thirds of it all I wanted to do was slap the main character Mara and yell: "Stop whining and DO SOMETHING!!!" so I would have originally given it two stars. She was so pathetic, and she took so much crap from virtually everyone in her life, I just couldn't stand her. Truthfully, if I hadn't been asked to narrate this book as part of my volunteer work recording talking books for the visually impaired, I would probably not have even finished this book. But, Mara does pull it together by the end, and the ending almost made reading this book worth it so I ultimately settled on three stars. At the start of the book, Mara is living in a tiny basement apartment in Toronto having been dumped by her live-in boyfriend [via a phone call from his assistant to let her know he's already moved to Calgary and cleaned out all the furniture, including Mara's bed!], working at a job she hates as the receptionist at a plastic surgery clinic, and trying not to be too envious of her two more established - and seemingly perfect - best friends, Olivia and Mitz, both of whom are, frankly the most selfish, self-absorbed excuses for friends I have read about in a while. Even Mara's family seems to be head and shoulders above her in their lives, careers and successes. Sister Victoria is married to a successful lawyer, with three kids, a big house, a maid, nanny and no need to work, and her parents run a successful cookie-gram business, while Mara hates everything about her life. Her two bright spots are: yoga, which seems to be the one thing she feels like she's really good at and actually enjoys; and her gay best friend Bradford, who, in addition to joining Mara for cupcake dates, offers her sage advice for creating a life she could actually love, instead of whining about everything she doesn't love. Bradford was about the only thing I can say I really loved about this book. He was a delight - smart, funny, charming and painfully honest with Mara, while still being loving and supportive of her. He really lets her have it after all her attempts to change her life fail, because as he tells her: everything she's tried to do has been more about being more like Olivia or Mitz, than actually finding out what makes Mara happy. Mara does ultimately figure things out, and without giving spoilers, she gets to a better place, largely through continuing to practice yoga, and the best part of the whole book comes from her yoga instructor in explaining that the heart of yoga is honesty because: "Truly interesting people are honest. People who are not honest are uninteresting. They're doing everything they think they're supposed to do in the way they're supposed to do it, but they're not being true to themselves. They're not being themselves. Honest people make mistakes and fail, and that's what makes them fascinating." That quote alone was worth reading this book, because it's such a great approach to life and living, and I loved it. As far as recommending this book, if you loved Bridget Jones' Diary, you will probably enjoy this. Also if you live in Toronto you may find it fun, because the book is set here, and the author includes people, places, things, and businesses in the Toronto area, and it's always fun to hear about places you've been in a book.
Date published: 2011-03-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This book was a uplifting surprise! I also like to give new Canadian writers a try! Even though I am couple decades older than the character in this book, I could relate to everything she was experiencing! Very enjoyable, particularily if you have spent time in Toronto and enjoy the Danforth ... not to mention yoga!
Date published: 2010-09-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Chick lit at it’s worst I am always willing to give a first time author a chance, and when the first time author also happens to be Canadian, I really try to give them a chance. Unfortunately things did not work out so well with this author and this book. Stuck in Downward Dog is the type of book that makes me cringe at the way women are portrayed. Mara is useless at everything, can’t cook or get a job, apartment, boyfriend, etc. and thinks if she were skinny (when exactly did sized 10 become unbearably fat?) all would be well in her life. Her two ‘best friends’ treat Mara with scorn and contempt and are constantly leaving her out and putting her down. Although, Mara is so wrapped up in her own self pity, that she is completely clueless to what is going on in her friends lives and has no idea just how miserable they are. All of the characters are just irritating, vacant stereotypes; none of them fully developed in any way. This is a poor rip off of Bridget Jones, complete with hated job, disastrous dinner party and weight obsession; but with none of the warmth, humour, personality, verve or likeability of Bridget. I recommend skipping Stuck in Downward Dog altogether and just re-read Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Date published: 2008-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent I rarely EVER read a book twice. I made an exception with this one. I had read this book a few years back and enjoyed it, but thought it would be fun to re-read it again since I have personally discovered the joys of Yoga and Pilates. This book entertained me as much the first time as the second time! Our main character Mara is basically a HUGE wimp! She coasts through life - up to the point where she gets home one day (to her dingy little basement apt) to find that the movers are there. Yep, her boyfriend has left her and moved to Calgary and taken ALL the furniture (including Mara's bed). So what does Mara do???? She basically sits on a makeshift box and stares at the floor for a while. After some time, she decides to share her news with her two best friends. Let me tell you, if I had two best friends like that AND a boyfriend who left me and took my bed, I would be a little depressed myself. We are introduced to Mara's two friends, Olivia and Mitz who are best described as hum! let's see - shallow and self-absorbed. We are also introduced to Mara's male (and gay) friend Bradford who, in my opinion, is the only likeable character in this whole storyline. Mara works at a job she hates and yet, she needs extra money so she starts working as a receptionist at a yoga studio. This is when things really got interesting to me. Mara starts getting involved in the art of yoga and decides that she needs to change her life and creates an OM list (to do list). As she checks things off her list (i.e. paint the apt, have a diner party), things go from bad to worse. I mean, this girl is seriously lacking in all life skills. Yet, through all the entire book, there is something entirely likable about Mara and her desire to better herself. I am not fond of the initial reasons she has for doing this (to impress her friends) but what makes this book so readable is that you can actually see Mara's evolution from wimpy little people pleaser to a woman who finally figures out that she is worth something and does not need to always put herself down and settle for third best - and she gains much of this wisdom through her love of yoga (which is the one thing that is a constant for Mara). I loved the way this book is writ en - this is chick lit at its best. If you like coming of age stories enter twined with chick lit (not one sex scene in the whole book) and a love of yoga -then this is your book. Extra bonus for us Canadians who live in Toronto or have visited Toronto so much that we know the city very well (my case), the storyline takes place in Toronto. Buy this one.
Date published: 2008-09-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Chick Lit This was a book about finding yourself. I had fun reading it, it was nothing groundbreaking but fun nonetheless and made me want to take up yoga! If you want a beach read or a lighter book I'd recommend this home grown book.
Date published: 2008-08-12