Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Ellen Meister

Pub Date: Feb. 21st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-399-15907-7
Publisher: Putnam

The ghost of the eponymous 20th-century wit visits a present-day movie reviewer who lacks Parker’s backbone in this mix of comedy and tear-jerker from Meister (The Other Life, 2011, etc.).

Violet displays a pungent wit as a writer of reviews, but in her personal life, she’s a wimp, and her paralyzing anxiety may cost her. After the death of her older sister and son-in-law in a car accident, Violet is in a custody battle for her 13-year-old niece, Delaney. Delaney wants to live with Violet, not her obnoxious grandparents, but Violet has recently failed to stand up for herself in front of the judge. She’s also finding it difficult to break up with a boyfriend she actively dislikes. Then, she visits the Algonquin Hotel and ends up walking out with a guest book signed by all the literary luminaries. When she opens the books, she releases the spirit of Dorothy Parker, who has chosen not to follow “the white light,” preferring to hang around drinking and making clever witticisms—her biographical information is awkwardly inserted into the story, clearly meant to be an homage to her talent and spirit. Dorothy befriends Violet, giving her advice and occasionally literally taking over her body, causing Violet to behave uncharacteristically to say the least. Soon, Violet has dumped the boyfriend and come on strong to Michael, the African-American ex-Marine Kung Fu trainer she has a secret crush on. She also refuses to allow herself to be intimidated by the editorial assistant who has edited her work without permission. And she decides to fight harder for Delaney. But can Dorothy’s helpfulness go too far? 

As self-empowerment romantic comedies go, this perfectly pleasant one hits all the predictable marks.