FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER
By Ellen Meister (Putnam, 305 pages, $26.95)
Picture a Venn diagram showing Dorothy Parker fans, readers of chick lit and lovers of friendly-ghost stories, and you’ll see “Farewell, Dorothy Parker” right in the middle of the overlapping circles. Ellen Meister offers an imaginative take on the lessons that the clever, troubled writer would impart to a would-be modern-day counterpart.
Violet Epps is a repressed movie critic whose wicked wit is revealed only in her reviews. She’s fighting over custody of her orphaned niece with the girl’s manipulative grandparents, and suffers a deadbeat artist boyfriend. She longs to be more like her idol, the fearlessly funny Mrs. Parker. Then Violet accidentally releases Mrs. Parker’s ghost from the guestbook of the Algonquin Hotel and finds herself with a wise, hard-drinking pal.
Meister weaves an amusing story of pathos and growth as Violet develops self-esteem and tries to make a better life for herself and her niece. And with lines such as “The space between romance and pragmatism is exactly where a girl can get herself in trouble,” Meister makes Mrs. Parker as sharp-tongued in the afterlife as she was in her 1920s heyday.
MARCI SCHMITT, multiplatform editor
REVENGE WEARS PRADA: THE DEVIL RETURNS
By Lauren Weisberger (Simon & Schuster, 400 pages, $25.99)
The title of this book is a tad misleading. In this sequel to “The Devil Wears Prada,” a reader would probably expect Miranda Priestly to make an icy entrance, throwing daggerish looks and cool insults. Quite the contrary, the novel focuses on the life of ex-assistant Andy Sachs as she is about to be married to a publishing tycoon. Andy owns a successful bridal magazine and has, somewhat surprisingly, become best friends with a character from the previous book.
But as in real life, not everything turns up roses and sunshine. Andy is betrayed by her husband, with the help of Miranda, who indirectly makes Andy’s life complicated. Of course, readers can expect excessive name-dropping of designers and descriptions of what everyone is wearing. A great lakeside read for a celebrity-obsessed reader.
Melissa Walker, calendar editor