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SOAPSUDS by Finola Hughes


by Finola Hughes & Digby Diehl

Pub Date: June 14th, 2005
ISBN: 0-345-47082-6
Publisher: Ballantine

A hapless actress joins the snake pit cast of a popular American soap, in this sometimes amusing debut.

Having appeared on General Hospital and All My Children, Hughes has made a world she knows firsthand into the subject of a mild satire—not too daunting a task, considering that soaps satirize themselves five days a week. Hughes has British actress Kate McPhee going to work in Los Angeles on Live for Tomorrow just after discovering that her boyfriend has been sleeping with her best friend. Kate can’t ever quite get it together—she drives for six months with the donut on one of her car’s wheels. So she’s titmouse bait for the adders on the show, particularly Meredith Contini, the grand dame who has starred on Live longer than she’ll let any publicist admit. All Kate has to do is flirt mildly with one of the actors Meredith is sizing up and the newcomer finds her character morphing into a lesbian, who, down the line, will be pursued by vampires (don’t ask—Kate is Alice down the rabbit hole, as frequent and unnecessary quotes from the Carroll classic make clear). When she’s not skirmishing with Meredith, Kate tries without luck to jump-start her love life. A magician she meets at Starbucks pulls his own vanishing act. Shopping for a Christmas tree, she meets an aspiring screenwriter, but after a mellow holiday interlude, he leaves her. Love also seems to appear in the form of fellow actor Wyatt Sinclair, but Wyatt has the misfortune of being married to one of Kate’s best friends, also on the show. With her life (and the narrative) resembling the script of a soap (sans cliffhangers), Kate nobly turns away from Wyatt to face—yes, another day.

Soap fans may savor the catfights and crass humor; others will probably find the narrative slack and pointless.