AGE MATTERS by Peggy  Dougherty


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This madcap comedy-satire follows an ambitious 60-something screenwriter and her quest to make it at any cost.

Kay Baldwin—pen name: “Kathryn Murphy”—is a divorced nutritionist on the verge of two life changes: losing her home and selling her first, autobiographical screenplay. Accomplishing the latter could prevent the former, but movie studios seem to value youth more than anything. Kay’s agent suggests hiring a younger actress to impersonate her in a meeting with producers, but Kay has another idea: to send her daughter Lori, an attorney on the cusp of getting married, to pretend to be Kathryn Murphy. One meeting turns into several, and soon, hotshot studio head Joel Telzmon becomes one of Kay’s nutritionist clients—and a potential romantic interest. But when Joel’s partner, the formidable Simon Stouffer, voices his opinion on the screenplay, Kay’s initial lie grows more elaborate. Simon hates the script and wants to produce another—a drama about an African-American family, written by his own niece. Then Simon’s wife threatens divorce if that script isn’t done to her specifications. The novel begins as a funny, sharp look at the film industry’s impossible standards of youth. However, it soon descends into a rather sad tale. Kay is so single-minded in pursuit of her goal—“The primary issue, the only issue, was the fate of her script”—that she forces her daughter into increasingly uncomfortable situations that jeopardize her own love life and future. Rather than face her own fears of insolvency, Kay chooses to inconvenience and alienate everyone around her, and her redemption comes too late for readers to care. The smart, thoughtful Lori would have made a delightful main character; instead, she ends up doing way too much for her incapable parent. Also, the story becomes overwhelmed by extraneous subplots involving tax fraud, casual racism, and a very silly argument over dance lessons.

A drawn-out tale that starts out promising but is laid low by a shallow, unlikable protagonist.

Page count: 443pp
Publisher: Big Hat Press
Program: Kirkus Indie
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