Thursday, January 17, 2013

Farewell Dorothy Parker, by Ellen Meister (Release date Feb 21, 2013)

Disclaimer: Every time I saw or thought of this book, "Just One of those Things" * began running through my head. And now it's in your head, too. Just one of those things, I guess.

On to my thoughts of this book. I'm a Dorothy Parker fan. I think we're a dying breed. So when I read that Ellen Meister, who is also a Dorothy Parker Fan, upon seeing all the Jane Austen spin-offs, had written a book around one of her literary favorites, I was in. 

The premise of the story is clever. Movie critic Violet Epps, as fiery in her reviews as she is timid in her real life, manages through a quirk of fates, to unleash the ghost of Dorothy Parker. Violet's personal life is a bit of a mess in just about every aspect: love, family, work. The quick witted Mrs Parker jumps in to help Violet strengthen her resolve, grow a backbone, get some courage, which is both helpful and horrific. In turn, Violet works to get the ghost to resolve some issues.

The story itself is an interesting mix of Parkerisms, historical facts, and poignancy. Violet's love life is a mess because of her timidity. She also is involved in a nasty battle for the custody of her beloved niece, orphaned the year before when Violet's sister and brother-in-law died. Plus she has a cut-throat assistant at the office to deal with. But her relationships with the niece, love interest, and co-worker ring true. This reader was able to follow her emotional growth, even though I did cringe each time Dorothy interfered as there were some disasters when she did so.

There were a few minor plot developments that irked me, but overall, I had fun reading this. I even pulled a couple of books of Parker's writings off the shelf to add to my "to be read" pile. My main problem with stories that revolve around a literary or historical figure being involved in a fiction book is that I often don't like how they are portrayed. While this characterization did not always match up to mine, it was fine. And probably, if I had met Mrs Parker in person, she would have terrified me.

Many thanks to Library Thing and to the Publisher for sending this AR copy my way. 3.5 our of 5 stars.

*As Dorothy Parker once said to her boyfriend: "Fare thee well!"
As Columbus announced when he knew he was bounced: "It was swell, Isabelle, swell!

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