Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
How ironic: one of the Key Events in this book is a review that movie critic Violet Epps (aka "our heroine") writes about a movie that doesn't live up to it's promise. She repeats a prayer while watching, "please surprise me". Couldn't have said it better about this book myself. Of course, the chances of this review going viral are far slimmer than hers...
Violet was essentially bullied by her sister Ivy into changing from a smartmouthed kid to one who is afraid to say anything in public (at one point, the author calls this "social phobia" but it's hardly that, it's learned behavior). Her reviews, on the other hand, are witty and engender much comment. She's involved with a self-absorbed artist, Carl, and fighting to retain custody of her newly orphaned niece, Delaney. Via a relatively contrived circumstance, she ends up with a guest book signed by the various celebrities who have eaten at the Algonquin - a guest book that just happens to be haunted by Dorothy Parker's shade.
Coached/goaded by Mrs. Parker (never Dorothy!), Violet starts to change. And, sadly, no surprises anywhere along the line. The entire book seems to be an excuse for Ms. Meister to add in Parkeresque quips and give us an abbreviated history of the celebrated author/bon mot expert. As Ms. Epps says at the end of her infamous review, it's not awful. It's just not great.
ARC provided by publisher.