In former TV writer Shaw’s debut, a series of connected stories with Los Angeles as a supporting character, a transplanted New Yorker finds herself adrift in La-La Land after her marriage goes south.
When reporter Lacey Brennan, “on the cusp of her thirties,” meets Toby in a Manhattan comedy club, she feels like her grown-up life has begun at last. He’s sweet and funny, and after a whirlwind bicoastal courtship she joins him in California, where he is a staff writer for a late-night TV show. Insecure Lacey overlooks many signals that they might not be well suited for each other, and after the wedding things unravel quickly. Toby loses his job and spends his days in front of the television in a pot-fueled haze while she supports them working as an assistant on a TV show. Eager to salvage their relationship and avoid a divorce like the one that tore apart her own family, Lacey turns to couples therapy, but Toby leaves her anyway. Depressed and lonely in a city that doesn’t feel like home, she throws herself into an ill-advised affair and numerous casual hook-ups. Her soul-searching (and some therapy) leads her back to a traumatic childhood in which her mother was forced to choose her new husband over Lacey and her twin brother Sam. Realizing that lingering unresolved issues are holding her back, Lacey stages an intervention with her parents and Sam, a plan complicated by the fact that Sam has been missing for years. Meanwhile, Lacey’s improved confidence attracts a new suitor who, wouldn’t you know it, appears right after she decides to move back to New York for good.
Rises above the downbeat first half to offer a believable, honest and observant portrait of a woman who gets what she wants only after giving up what she thought she needed.