Older sister of a successful English entertainer spends a year in her sibling’s Los Angeles digs.
The author has the good fortune to be related to Julia Fordham, a singer/songwriter who’s actually making a living. Divorced with two grown children, 41-year-old Claire is at loose ends. Meanwhile, Julia’s just rattling around in her house in L.A. Voila: a book is born! Claire moves to the West Coast to find herself, and maybe some paying work as a journalist. Much of the story revolves around her fish-out-of-water experiences in the City of Angels, with its curious customs and flaky residents. The rest is a chronicle of Muttley, the dog Julia adopts, to whom Claire takes an instant dislike. Muttley eats her shoes. Muttley gets a trainer. Muttley becomes the scruffy little heart of the family. Meanwhile, Claire tries her hand at assisting on a movie set (hates it), accompanying her sister on tour in the Philippines (the bags are so heavy) and flying with Julia to do a showcase in New York City (she repeatedly calls the big-shot producer by the wrong name). When she can put aside her fascination with George Clooney, Claire also attempts to meet a man. With the help of various positive-thinking circles and supportive friends, she does find someone. Unfortunately, he ends up being a perfect L.A. stereotype: terribly charming, wonderfully clever, afraid to commit and fond of playing the field with women at least 15 years younger than Claire. When it comes to the “plus one” parts of the title, Claire spends more time attending baby showers of famous people’s children as her sister’s date than walking the red carpet at the Oscars.
Mildly entertaining anecdotes that might have made good cocktail party chat. Once compiled, they add up to a bit less than the sum of their parts.