From the author of Girls’ Poker Night (2001), another light comedy with a dash of neurosis.
Emily Rhode’s mother has just called to say that she’s dying. Granted, Joanie Rhode is prone to self-serving dramatics, but she does actually have breast cancer. Emily drops everything in a seeming act of filial altruism. In a single day, she gives up her job as a lawyer at a large firm, walks out on doting boyfriend Sam and moves back into her childhood bedroom. Emily isn’t quite sure how her mother’s cancer created such an upheaval in her own life, but her shrink thinks it may have something to do with that little problem she has with commitment. The one bright spot is the reappearance of her father. Though the whole family has stayed in Manhattan—including sister Marjorie, a pregnant socialite with an army of paid assistants—Emily has rarely seen Jim Rhode since she was five, when her parents divorced. On a whim, she accepts a job at his law firm, not as a lawyer but as the receptionist. Father and daughter share a cab to work every morning, and Emily begins to glimpse in him what everyone else in the office sees: a happy-go-lucky fellow, a pleasant conversationalist, a rock-solid sort of man. Which makes his long-ago abandonment seem all the more puzzling. But confronting the issue would just seem . . . rude. As she spends her days idly staring through her Plexiglas enclosure, Emily begins a flirtation with a young lawyer, all the while pining for Sam. This is hardly the stuff of great drama, yet Davis makes the narrative work with effortless light humor and genuine thoughtfulness, creating a sympathetic narrator who is left with one big question: Now what?
Well-drawn characters with emotional integrity surmount the familiar plotting.