A likable debut novel about the perils and travails of a young woman who comes to New York to launch herself as a writer. The literary racket was never the easiest game to crack, especially for young newcomers eager to be dealt in, but it may be harder now than ever. Claudia Steiner came to Manhattan fresh from college with big dreams of writing her way to fame and fortune, but it wasn—t long before the wind dropped from her sails. After a succession of dead-end jobs (temp work, waiting tables, phone-sex scriptwriter), she eventually concluded that her novel was not going to be written anytime soon and took on more permanent employment—as personal secretary to Jacqueline del Castellano, the bestselling author of The Sophisticated Sleuth. A stroke of luck for Claudia? Not really. Not only is Jacqueline a hack, but she’s a vicious piece of work as well, given to venting her monumental temper at anyone within easy reach—who usually turns out to be Claudia, of course. Claudia puts up with the situation as best she can, taking solace in nightly cocktails at the local bar and long bitch sessions with her best friend William. But stopgap arrangements are temporary at best: as Jacqueline’s egotism becomes ever more unmanageable, Claudia’s nightcaps turn increasingly into benders, and she eventually comes to realize an unpleasant fact—that she’s in love with William. Talk about a rock and a hard place: If she tells him how she feels, she risks losing him as a friend. And if she quits her job with Jacqueline to finish her own book, she risks losing the one person well-connected enough to get it published. Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Of course, though(as usual) the trip is more fun than the destination. Jolly, rollicking fun, told with good humor and easy wit.