A rare honest story about love, ambition, and compromise.
“But what is a demimonde, anyway?” asks Alison Moore in the opening line of this novel by Rebeck, the creator of TV’s Smash and a widely produced playwright. Rebeck’s insider knowledge of the demimonde of entertainment and celebrity is put to excellent use as she tracks the upward trajectory of a young actress from Cincinnati, from cattle-call auditions for a two-line role through a lead in a television series and to the brink of Hollywood superstardom. Every type in showbiz is unmasked here, from the writer—“It’s only two lines but there has to be stakes”—to the columnist—“Hi Jessica, you look fantastic! Can I grab you for a few minutes to talk about your know-nothing role as a gun-toting whore in Evil Dead 12?”—to the actress herself, “light-headed with hunger all the time” on the orders of her agent: “Beautiful food is for you to look at, and other people to eat.” While her stock goes up careerwise, Alison’s personal life is in free-fall. The decision to move to New York abruptly ended her relationship with her high school sweetheart, Kyle, and their inability to recover ends up warping both of their lives. An idealistic doctor and a committed Catholic, shellshocked Kyle ends up in a pediatric practice catering to entitled suburbanites and, worse, married to a woman he doesn’t love. Every time Alison comes home for a visit, they run into each other and bad things happen. Though she’s something of a black sheep in her extended family, where grandchildren Nos. 8 and 9 are on the way, Alison identifies deeply with the Midwest itself, its culture, its values, its nice people with good manners. Even the parties are better, in her opinion.
The snappy dialogue and plot you’d expect from a veteran dramatist plus the rich exploration of character that novels are made for.