A contemporary send-up of the Academy in the age of publicize-or-perish.
A mild-mannered Brontë scholar becomes unmoored when Claire Vigee, the media-savvy, neo-feminist-theory-spouting originator of Diana Studies (that’s Princess Di), joins the faculty of a New York university. Sara Frost can’t complete her dissertation until she finds the lost love letters of Charlotte Brontë, Victorian role model for romantics like Sara and her fiancé, David. Then Claire arrives on campus, with her two buff bodyguards, a personal assistant who thinks the Bronte sisters were a Motown girl group and a take-no-prisoners campaign to promote her new book, Amazon, a revisionist critique on culture that, among other things, exalts Diana, Princess of Wales, as a “rebel with a great wardrobe.” The bustier-and-lace-wearing Claire, who works the talk shows and women’s magazines like a master puppeteer, enjoys manipulating peoples’ lives, too, and soon David has dumped Sara for a fellowship in France and a Collette scholar named Therese. Sara finds herself teaching Claire’s Diana Studies classes for her (including a lecture on Romeo and Juliet, which the students insist is a play about castration and female rage), and sleeping with a fun, feckless Frenchman who may or may not be Claire’s half-brother and who may or may not have slept with Claire. Meanwhile, having lost her research grant (thanks, Claire!), Sara becomes intent on pleasing a movie producer who believes Charlotte Brontë’s life could be the next box-office smash.
A rollicking romp through the fun-house hallways of academe and the narcissism of celebrity.