As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

September 7, 2014

FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER by Ellen Meister, 2013

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 20th century. If only Violet could summon that kind of courage in her personal life. Determined to defeat her social anxiety, Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel where Dorothy Parker and so many other famous writers of the 1920s traded barbs. But she gets more than she bargained for when Dorothy Parker's feisty spirit rematerializes from an ancient guestbook and hitches a ride onto her life. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Julie, Children's lit enthusiast and pop culture geek

Famous critic Violet Epps may be able to skewer movies with scathing wit, but in real life, she is a timid mouse.  Juggling a deadbeat boyfriend, a custody case involving her teenage niece, and rivals at work, Violet feels like she will crumble under the pressure of it all. One day, at the Algonquin Hotel, Violet accidentally summons the ghost of her hero, writer and humorist Dorothy Parker.  When the delightfully-acerbic Mrs. Parker refuses to leave, Violet realizes that this spirit may be able to help her find the courage she needs.

When I first heard about this novel, I was hesitant. Recreating Dorothy Parker, mistress of the verbal hand  grenade?  Could it be done?  Well, Ellen Meister's creation is about as true a representation of Dorothy Parker as can be.  The novel is alive with zingers and one liners, some invented, and some attributed to the great Mrs. Parker.  Meister's imagination runs wild with the kind of trouble Parker might get into in the 21st century.  There is never a dull moment in the book, and laughs abound.

The plot itself is interesting and, while reminiscent of many "chick lit" or romantic comedy works, gives the opportunity to add depth to Parker's character.  Violet's teenage niece, a young girl reeling after her parents' sudden deaths in a car accident, relates to Parker's lifelong struggle with grief and depression.  Here, Meister is able to present a different side to a historical figure who is so often known only for her smart-aleck remarks.  Of course, these aspects of the novel also make Violet's struggle all the more real and relatable--but Mrs. Parker is certainly always the star of the novel.

Written with incredible love for its namesake, FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER is a wonderful novel for Parker's fans and those who have yet to discover her.  Meister's storytelling and sparkling language would have made Dottie proud.

Market: Adult fiction
Violence: none
Language: moderate (a couple of f-bombs, used in a light/joking context)
Sensuality: moderate (1-2 intimate scenes, but nothing explicit)
Adult Themes: romantic relationships, alcoholism, death and grief

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