From second-novelist Stella (Fat Bald Jeff, 2001): a good-natured comedy about social climbing as a nice girl from Chicago’s South Side gets taken up by the glitterati.
Despite the subtitle, there’s actually not much room for leisure in the world of budding fashionista Lisa Galisa. A junior sales clerk in Women’s Wear at Fishman’s Department Store, Lisa grew up in retailing—as the daughter of a small shopkeeper in a working-class neighborhood. Living now on the North Side and (horror of horrors) rooting for the Cubs, Lisa has put much of her proletarian past behind her, but she still has a ways to go. Her gay sidekick Tim Gideon will poke her occasionally when she lapses into a South Side accent, and she’s never lost her taste for Old Style beer. But Lisa is thrust into the limelight when her boss notices her resemblance to Maria Callas and uses her as a living model of the late diva in promoting the store’s new spring line—which is in the Greek mode. Offhand by nature, Lisa masters the needed air of mystery and hauteur, though she has to contend both with the malevolence of a vicious society columnist (on whose shoes she once vomited) and with the jealousy of the Men’s Wear supervisor (who came up with the Greek motif and had his idea stolen by Lisa’s boss). But she succeeds well enough to be taken up by society hostess Honey Dietrich, who hires her as a personal assistant and sets her to planning an annual Christmas gala. Has Lisa found her true place in society? Or is she rising for a fall? Perhaps she should concentrate less on the dolce vita of the North Shore and pay a bit more attention to schoolteacher/janitor Ray Fuchet, the admirer who fell for her while playing Ari Onassis in the Fishman’s campaign.
A pleasant take on the vanity of human wishes: well conceived, nicely wrapped up.