This is a entertaining book in many ways, and the pop-culture references are amusing and perceptive. I was reminded of how self-absorbed and ridiculous people can be by some of the situations the characters find themselves dealing with (such as getting involved with someone you don’t want to be involved with and drinking too much and doing dumb things as a result). There are no excuses for the nonsense, however. Helena takes responsibility for her actions, does learn from her experiences and acknowledges that poor choices are made along the way.
The reminiscing seems rambling at first, but it does make sense in the end, and Helena’s smart-mouth reference notes to her readers are funny. The common thread throughout Helena’s story is the bond between Helena and her niece, Penelope, AKA Penelope, Countess of Arcadia or Penny. Helena and Penny have both lived through pain and loss, and their relationship is touching.
Memoirs of a Dilettante is worth reading, darlings, especially for the interaction between Helena and Penny.