Elizabeth the First Wife

Elizabeth the First Wife

4.0 54
by Lian Dolan
     
 

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Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her perfectly dull but perfectly orchestrated life upended one summer by three men: her movie-star ex-husband, a charming political operative, and William Shakespeare. Until now, she’d been content living in the shadow of her high-profile and highly accomplished family. Then her college

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Overview

Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her perfectly dull but perfectly orchestrated life upended one summer by three men: her movie-star ex-husband, a charming political operative, and William Shakespeare. Until now, she’d been content living in the shadow of her high-profile and highly accomplished family. Then her college boyfriend and one-time husband of seventeen months, A-list action star FX Fahey, shows up with a job offer that she can’t resist, and Elizabeth’s life suddenly gets a whole lot more interesting. She’s off to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the summer to make sure FX doesn’t humiliate himself in an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

As she did so skillfully with her first novel, Helen of Pasadena, which spent more than a year on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list, Lian Dolan spins a lively, smart, and very funny tale of a woman reinventing her life in unexpected ways.

Lian Dolan is also the co-author of The Satellite Sisters' Uncommon Senses. As part of the Satellite Sisters, Lian and her four sisters found national acclaim first on NPR, then on ABC Radio and XM Satellite Radio. She also creates the popular podcast and blog Chaos Chronicles.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The breezy style of Dolan's Helen of Pasadena here carries over to Elizabeth Lancaster, a Shakespeare teacher at Pasadena Community College. Although her father is a Nobel Prize winner, her mother is an obsessive organizer, one sister is married to a California gubernatorial candidate, and another sister is a physician, Elizabeth is content with her life—until her ex-husband, now a famous movie star, walks into her classroom. FX Fahey, hired to do live theater at the Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival, wants to hire Elizabeth as his literary advisor. She accepts the offer and takes her teenaged niece along as her intern. The Ashland scene clearly shows the rift between classical Shakespeare and Hollywood when the director wants full nudity in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Elizabeth, desperate to save face, manages some modification in the production which, unfortunately, isn't enough to prevent her entire family from entering the fray. Dolan, a Pasadena resident, knows her territory as she writes of gifted children, obsessions with clothing, food, and public image. But Elizabeth comes off more like Bridget Jones than an adult Shakespearean professor. In spite of the snarky style the pace lags, and the one-dimensional characters and feel-good Hollywood ending make this standard airport fare. (May)
From the Publisher

Praise for Elizabeth the First Wife
"A charmingly funny and effortless read....wonderfully developed cast of characters" -Library Journal (STARRED REVIEW)
"A Shakespeare-influenced delight." -Flavorpill
"Whipsmart...Elizabeth the First Wife...tackles reinvention, love, and finding yourself---all with a delicious soupcon of Shakespeare." - Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
“Brings humor and warmth to a contemporary story about a woman coping with family, career, and romance.” -Tampa Bay Times
“A joyous and delightful tale.” -Shelf Awareness
“Lian Dolan has created the perfect blend of vulnerability, complication, and wit in this outstanding second novel. With timeless storylines that play out on the stage and in the real world, this is a purely enchanting read.” -Robin Kall, host, Reading with Robin
“It is a work of fiction, but boy is it detailed about what goes on in Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.” -The Jefferson Exchange
"Reading Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan is kind of like sitting down for coffee with that really smart, witty friend who always has a madcap story (or three) to share." -Hamlet Hub

Praise for Helen of Pasadena
"A compelling narrative and a memorable cast." - Publishers Weekly
"A send-up of a 40something mom who finds herself suddenly widowed, broke, and forced to reinvent herself...opinionated, energetic, and sassy." - Mandalit del Barco, NPR
"A knockout debut...it mixes up the classics and class structure in a deliciously witty romp."
- Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
"Every reader will see something of herself in Dolan's likeable heroine, Helen of Pasadena. Offering up every woman's worst fear, Dolan pulls the rug out from under Helen, and we get to watch as she recovers and reinvents herself with wit, charm, and smarts." - Sally Bjornsen, author of A Single Girl's Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife

Library Journal
Dolan's sophomore effort (after Helen of Pasadena) is a charmingly funny and effortless read. Elizabeth Lancaster is happy with her life as an English professor at a community college in Pasadena, CA. Though her overachieving family includes a Nobel laureate father, a sister who's pursuing a cure for cancer, and another sister who is helping her congressman husband move on to bigger and better things, Elizabeth likes where she's landed. At least she thought she did. Then FX Fahey, a hunky Hollywood movie star and her ex-husband, arrives on her doorstep and throws her for a loop. It took Elizabeth years to get over FX, but his offer of a job helping to stage A Midsummer Night's Dream may just suck her back in. Joining FX in Ashland, OR, is only the first hurdle. Once on site, Elizabeth discovers that things aren't going to be as easy as FX predicted. When complications spark a visit from the entire Lancaster clan to town, not to mention the man with whom Elizabeth has been skyping all summer, our heroine is torn between fight and flight. VERDICT This novel owes its success to the wonderfully developed cast of characters, especially Elizabeth, a fully grounded adult who deals gracefully with life (no chick-lit slapstick clutziness here). Fans of Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell will find much to like here.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781938849060
Publisher:
Prospect Park Books
Publication date:
04/26/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
304
File size:
900 KB

Meet the Author

Lian Dolan is the author of the Los Angeles Times bestselling novel Helen of Pasadena, and the co-author of The Satellite Sisters' Uncommon Senses. As part of the Satellite Sisters, Lian and her four sisters found national acclaim first on NPR, then on ABC Radio and XM Satellite Radio. She writes the popular blog Chaos Chronicles. Elizabeth the First Wife is her second novel.

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Elizabeth the First Wife 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 54 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Smart, funny, engaging, and just plain fun. A great summer read. 
GracieLoo More than 1 year ago
I loved Dolan's first funny novel Helen of Pasadena. Elizabeth The First Wife is as smart and funny as Helen, but also more complex (in a good way) and more plugged into popular culture in a way that will make you laugh out loud AND think some deep thoughts. Somehow Dolan manages to weave together the protagonist Elizabeth, a woman you no doubt already know in real life, with a charming, funny ex-husband who is now a major Hollywood action star, the complicated relationships among sisters who all go their own way, a Nobel prize-winning father and the lessons Shakespeare TRIED to teach us about dating and love and sex. As if that is not enough, the story turns on a media media firestorm that is totally believable despite the fact that A Midsummer's Night Dream and talk radio are both involved. Phew. As I read it, I thought it would be made into a fantastic movie. Read it now before it is (and cast the movie in your head.) Since reading Dolan's first novel, I have gotten hooked on both of her weekly podcasts. Listen to her show Chaos Chronicles and the one she does with her sisters called Satellite Sisters and you will understand the humor and the humanity she brings to her writing.
curlyhair More than 1 year ago
Lian brought to life, Elizabeth a Shakespearean professor who is suddenly contacted by her former husband. Loved the way she made the connection to a former heroine in her first novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tired of people giving the book and author only one star because they are mad at plot spoilers. One, no one forces you to read the review and two, it isn't fair to the author to give only one star because you are mad at the reviewer. That being said this was a great, fun read and I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
StephWard More than 1 year ago
'Elizabeth the First Wife' is a fun and witty women's fiction novel that follows leading lady Elizabeth Lancaster, who is currently a professor of English at Pasadena City College in California. Normally Elizabeth leads a predictable and boring life outside her classroom, but one summer she finds her life turned upside down as three different men demand her attention. The first is her ex-husband - a movie star, the second a political operative, and third is none other than William Shakespeare. Elizabeth takes off for the Sheakespeare Festival in Oregon to make sure her ex doesn't humiliate himself or the bard as he takes part in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Elizabeth's boring and sensible life will never be the same. This was a really charming novel that follows the wonderful main character of Elizabeth and a summer of unexpected reinvention. Elizabeth is a great lead - she's funny, intelligent, witty, and devoted to friends and family. She likes her regular, normal life - it's so different from the life of her ex-husband and her family. I immediately liked her character and her attitude, which enabled me to identify with her early on in the novel. The plot wasn't completely original, but the author wrote it with such vivid detail and smart dialogue that it completely sets it apart from other novels in the genre. There are some romantic issues in the book, but the way that the author approached them wasn't cheesy, but actually enhanced the overall story line. The writing itself was very well done and shows the talent of the author throughout each page. The plot was seamless with a good pace and dialogue that flowed effortlessly. This was a breezy and lighthearted novel that would be perfect for fans of women's fiction and chick lit. Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
LilyLangtry More than 1 year ago
I so enjoyed this novel by Lian Dolan, "Elizabeth the First Wife" is a refreshing, intelligent, funny expression of women and men at their best (including, if one is lucky enough to have the loving quirkiness of family relations). I am ready for more of Lian Dolan, and will add her first book "Helen of Pasadena" to my wish list, mean while hoping her "book within a book" come to fruition.
LindalovestoreadLR 8 months ago
Very clever and enjoyable. Great characters. Plus Shakespeare! Looking forward to more by author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fun easy story. Most of the main characters are enjoyable and well written m
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cute story, although I was getting a bit tired of the social scene bit at the end. Still an enjoyable change if pace.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has 280 pages and was a fun book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story of family, love and creativity in Ashland .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lian Doan wrote a very quick and yet enjoyable book. Elizabeth was a character that I could be interested in. I found the book hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cecirubo6723 More than 1 year ago
i can't recommended it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
dogloverVC More than 1 year ago
Characters were very likable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was an easy read, even though it referenced many Shakespearean characters, and had me laughing out loud.
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paulettejane More than 1 year ago
I liked it enough to try another book by this author. It was somewhat predictable but I'm a sucker for the happy ending.