Hamilton’s (Lucky at Love, 2006) novel tells the life-changing stories of an unlikely trio of Manhattanites whose lives intersect at a crummy diner.
The novel shifts points of view between aging rock star Tobias Jordan, failed architect Philip Glessner and waitress Priscilla Vanderpool. The men are both at desperate points—Philip dealing with a divorce and the imminent destruction of the building that was meant to be his crowning achievement while Tobias juggles wife, girlfriend and entourage while trying to make music again after nearly a decade of hiatus. And they are both drawn to the waitress at the diner they frequent. In a rash moment, Priscilla quits her restaurant job and decides to flee to Florida, going so far as buying the train ticket. Drawn to her practicality and straightforwardness, Philip begs her to stay, offering a new job and a place to live in exchange for her support. In a stroke of fate, Tobias discovers that Priscilla has a life’s worth of lyrics scribbled in notebooks, which he buys from her before she burns them, turning her into his unlikely muse. Lyrics by both Priscilla and Tobias pepper the book, risking distraction from the story itself. Ultimately, each man woos the former waitress in his own way, drawing from her what he can while plying her with opportunities she never imagined. While Hamilton’s book might benefit from some shortening, its storylines manage to entertain in their readability and constant twists. If the reader can maintain belief in the piling up of luck and fate, the ultimate payoff comes in the form of some crucial revelations Priscilla has regarding what she thinks she wants and what will actually make her happy.
Drawing from the legacy of everything from Cinderella to Pretty Woman, Hamilton’s novel is a fun romp for readers drawn to character-driven, mid-list fiction that offers lessons about life and love.