Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: Farewell, Dorothy Parker

Written by Ellen Meister
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2012

Publisher's Description:

When it comes to movie reviews, critic Violet Epps is a powerhouse voice. But that’s only because she’s learned to channel her literary hero, Dorothy Parker, the most celebrated and scathing wit of the twentieth century. If only Violet could summon that kind of strength in her personal life. 

Gripped by paralyzing anxiety, Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel in an attempt to pull strength from the hallowed dining room, where Dorothy Parker and so many other famous writers of the 1920s traded barbs. But she gets more than she bargained for, and the feisty spirit rematerializes . . . hitching a ride onto Violet’s already troubled life. An irreverent ghost with problems of her own—including a refusal to cross over to the afterlife—Mrs. Parker helps Violet face her fears, becoming mentor, tormentor, and, with any luck, friend.

My Thoughts:

Whenever possible, I try to write my reviews of LibraryThing's Early Reviewer books before I read any other reviews of the work -- that just seems like the fair thing to do. But I have to be honest here: While I was trying to form my thoughts about Ellen Meister's Farewell, Dorothy Parker, I glanced at another review and noticed that the reviewer said something about it being "chick lit" and not to her liking -- and I had one of those ah-hah! moments.  (Or maybe more like Doh!) Something about the book had been nagging at me, and I now realize that's it. Chick lit is what it is, and that's where the problem arises -- I don't generally enjoy that genre.

But I really didn't dislike this book; I just felt it didn't live up to its potential. The idea behind the story -- a magic book housing the ghost of Dorothy Parker -- sounds wonderful, and I was expecting to be wowed. Well, I wasn't wowed by Meister's novel, but I think it had some very good moments.

My main problem with the book is just that I never really warmed to its central character, the annoyingly weak-willed Violet Epps. The Dorothy Parker character was much more entertaining (of course), but she only showed up now and then. But it was a brisk read, with lots of action and conversation, so all in all a pretty pleasant experience.  Could this mean I should rethink my opinion about "chick lit"?

Note: This review refers to an advance reader’s edition of the novel, provided free of charge by the publisher, through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program. No other compensation was received.

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