BLUE PLATE SPECIAL by Frances Norris


A Novel of Love, Loss, and Food
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Disjointed first novel, this about a young woman fighting over her father’s estate with her stepsister in Kentucky between struggles with romance and career in Los Angeles.

After Julia’s father and stepmother die in a plane crash, she and her stepsister Constance must divide the estate, 70% going to Julia, 30% to Constance. At issue is the house where Julia grew up before her mother’s death from cancer and before her father had the gall to marry Constance’s mother Edna. Constance is so stereotypically and two-dimensionally mindless, grasping, and color-coordinated that readers may find themselves perversely rooting for her over the ever-suffering Julia, heroine-as-victim if ever there was one. After a family reunion at Constance’s frilly, pretentious house, Julia realizes that Constance might try to take things from her father’s house before the estate sale. Their lawyer agrees that Constance can’t be trusted and changes the locks until the actual sale can be arranged. Back in LA, Julia returns to her job at a pretentious food magazine where she’s a food stylist, because the photography job she wanted went to a silent genius named Stone (future romance antenna alert). Julia struggles to come to grips with both her parents’ deaths and to survive her evil boss Sally (see description of Constance above minus color coordination). On assignment in Sedona, Julia and Stone find true love and hand in their resignations just before the magazine folds, thanks to Sally’s incompetence. Stone travels with Julia back to Kentucky for the estate sale. Given that Julia already has rights to personal items, like her mother’s paintings, and is getting the bulk of the financial proceeds, the dramatic stakes aren’t very high. Julia catches Constance “stealing” two wineglasses, but then, in a surprise gesture, Constance gives up her claim to the dining-room table.

If Norris is trying to satirize LA and/or Kentucky, Julia’s whiny condescension kills her case. She has to be one of the least appealing chick-lit chicks that ever clucked.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-312-32232-1
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2004