Farewell, Dorothy Parker

( 10 )

Overview

When it comes to movie reviews, critic Violet Epps is a powerhouse voice. But that’s only because she’s learned to channel her literary hero Dorothy Parker, the most celebrated and scathing wit of the twentieth century. If only Violet could summon that kind of strength in her personal life.

Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel in an attempt to find inspiration from the hallowed dining room where Dorothy Parker and so many other famous writers of the 1920s traded barbs, but she gets...

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Farewell, Dorothy Parker

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Overview

When it comes to movie reviews, critic Violet Epps is a powerhouse voice. But that’s only because she’s learned to channel her literary hero Dorothy Parker, the most celebrated and scathing wit of the twentieth century. If only Violet could summon that kind of strength in her personal life.

Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel in an attempt to find inspiration from the hallowed dining room where Dorothy Parker and so many other famous writers of the 1920s traded barbs, but she gets more than she bargained for when Parker’s feisty spirit rematerializes. An irreverent ghost with problems of her own—including a refusal to cross over to the afterlife—Mrs. Parker helps Violet face her fears, becoming in turn mentor and tormentor…and ultimately, friend.

READERS GUIDE INSIDE

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Meister casts Dorothy Parker as a blithe spirit in her fanciful third novel (after The Other Life). Though movie critic Violet Epps has become famous for her scathing no-holds-barred wit, off the page, Violet is “held captive by her own timidity”; she can’t seem to dump her freeloading boyfriend, her assistant walks all over her, and she rarely accepts social invitations. Worst of all, this shyness has resulted in her being denied temporary custody of her recently orphaned 13-year-old niece, just when the girl needs her “Aunt V” the most. A fateful dinner at the Algonquin Hotel (one-time Parker hangout) ends with Violet becoming haunted by the spirit of her greatest influence. The acid-tongued, gin-swilling ghost immediately sets to meddling in Violet’s affairs, in an attempt to help her grow a backbone. With Parker’s help, Violet takes risks at work, connects with a new man, and finds the courage to make an impassioned plea for custody of her niece. With Violet’s help, Parker’s spirit may finally find peace. Meister skillfully translates the rapier-like wit of the Algonquin Round Table to modern-day New York. There are no shocking twists, but pathos, nuanced characters, plenty of rapid-fire one-liners, and a heart-rending denouement. Agent: Andrea Cirillo, the Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Feb.)
Kirkus Reviews
The ghost of the eponymous 20th-century wit visits a present-day movie reviewer who lacks Parker's backbone in this mix of comedy and tear-jerker from Meister (The Other Life, 2011, etc.). Violet displays a pungent wit as a writer of reviews, but in her personal life, she's a wimp, and her paralyzing anxiety may cost her. After the death of her older sister and son-in-law in a car accident, Violet is in a custody battle for her 13-year-old niece, Delaney. Delaney wants to live with Violet, not her obnoxious grandparents, but Violet has recently failed to stand up for herself in front of the judge. She's also finding it difficult to break up with a boyfriend she actively dislikes. Then, she visits the Algonquin Hotel and ends up walking out with a guest book signed by all the literary luminaries. When she opens the books, she releases the spirit of Dorothy Parker, who has chosen not to follow "the white light," preferring to hang around drinking and making clever witticisms--her biographical information is awkwardly inserted into the story, clearly meant to be an homage to her talent and spirit. Dorothy befriends Violet, giving her advice and occasionally literally taking over her body, causing Violet to behave uncharacteristically to say the least. Soon, Violet has dumped the boyfriend and come on strong to Michael, the African-American ex-Marine Kung Fu trainer she has a secret crush on. She also refuses to allow herself to be intimidated by the editorial assistant who has edited her work without permission. And she decides to fight harder for Delaney. But can Dorothy's helpfulness go too far? As self-empowerment romantic comedies go, this perfectly pleasant one hits all the predictable marks.
Library Journal
In this funny yet tender homage to Dorothy Parker, Meister's fourth novel (after The Other Life) resurrects the iconic wit of the literary legend. Violet Epps tiptoes through life wearing her anxiety and deference to others like a shield. She just doesn't have faith that she can stand up for herself to a pushy boyfriend, an overreaching junior colleague, or her orphaned niece's paternal grandparents, especially not with the kind of conviction typically conveyed by Dorothy Parker. Little does Violet realize that along with the Algonguin Hotel guest book that she impulsively stole and that is signed by her idol comes the spectral Mrs. Parker. Coached (and sometimes possessed!) by Mrs. Parker, Violet practices finding her voice and putting her past to rest so that she can fully face her future. VERDICT With a breezy and engaging writing style complete with Parkeresque banter, Meister's book can be forgiven a slightly predictable storyline. Realizing how it will end takes no pleasure from the reading, and the blend of romance and family drama with a hint of the paranormal has broad appeal. This will be enjoyed by readers who liked Jennifer Crusie's Maybe This Time.—Amy Brozio-Andrews, Albany P.L., NY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399159077
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/21/2013
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Meister

Ellen Meister is the author of The Other Life, The Smart One, and Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA. She teaches creative writing at Hofstra University School of Continuing Education and runs an online group where she mentors aspiring women authors.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 10 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    When it comes to her job as a movie reviewer for a national maga

    When it comes to her job as a movie reviewer for a national magazine Violet Epps carries a mighty-sassy pen.
    In real life she is a timid woman who lost her ability to defend herself out-loud, a result of being bullied as a child.
    Violet is desperate now, to find her assertive voice in order to win the fight for custody of her at-risk teenage niece and the courage to break up with a lazy leach of a boyfriend.
    I love it when I feel an emotional connection to a character and Ellen's character's did not disappoint.
    Oh how I wanted to join the conversation in Violet's living room with my fearless idol, Dorothy Parker.
    I swear I could smell the gin and cigarettes.
    Bravo Ellen, I will be anxiously awaiting Dorothy's next adventure.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Violet Epps is a scathing movie critic who is called some not-so

    Violet Epps is a scathing movie critic who is called some not-so-nice names on internet blogs by those who follow her reviews. In person, however, she is a meek person who stifled her opinions after a childhood scene with her sister that resulted in the family shunning her with silence for being so embarrassingly outspoken. Now, however, Violet needs to get some guts in order to dump her needy, self-centered boyfriend and to speak up at work where her job is threatened by a newbie trying to impress the bosses by editing Violet’s reviews in a way that reads grammatically perfect but stilts Violet’s style big-time!

    After meeting her boyfriend at the famous Algonquin Restaurant, where she fails to follow-up on her intention to call off their relationship, she accidentally slips into her bag a book signed by famous writers in the 1920s. Arriving home, however, she is shocked to discover that when the book is open, the ghost of notable writer Dorothy Parker is alive and well and is determined to change Violet from the “shrinking” side of that flower to an audacious, feisty woman who will speak her mind as required, with no holds.

    What follows is a fun, spunky, tension-ridden, but endearing tale of Violet’s conversion and Dorothy’s delight in carrying forward her outrageous reputation for shocking all but getting exactly what she wants. Violet will get rid of the drip, get her colleague in the right place, and meet someone who will change her world, as Dorothy urges her to learn to flirt and become a “hot” contemporary gal. Yes, Dorothy is hysterically funny in her audacious comments and urgings which at times scare the heck out of Violet but which then make complete sense. Dorothy was a healthy dose of reality with no sugar-coated platitudes filling her writing or conversation way back when, a woman before her times but the perfect medicine for curing our heroine of the disease, excessive timidity. Absolutely delightful and great comic, romantic read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    If you are not already a Dorothy Parker fan, Ellen Meister will

    If you are not already a Dorothy Parker fan, Ellen Meister will make you one. Farewell, Dorothy Parker is clever and witty. Thanks to this author for shedding new light on a feisty literary icon and bringing us a fun read in the process.

    Violet Epps, a sharp-tongued movie reviewer, needs some help in her personal life. Whether it’s breaking up with her boyfriend or bettering her family relationships, she just doesn’t have the oomph she needs. She summons her muse, Dorothy Parker, audacious and witty writer of the 1920s, to pull her out of her timidity. What Violet doesn’t realize is that after she is invited to sign the guest book of the Algonquin Hotel, she inadvertently lets Mrs. Parker’s ghost loose and brings her home. Only after Violet finds the diminutive Mrs. Parker demanding a drink from her couch does she realize that Parker is here to stay in the form of a sharp-tongued, mentoring ghost who becomes trouble and won’t go away.

    This fictionalized version of Parker’s life, verified in the author’s note, takes liberties for the sake of the narrative. The well-researched book delivers what we long for and then some. Meister captures Parker’s dry wit and sarcasm perfectly. “Don’t be a coward. It’s your moment.” Meister’s writing is funny, intelligent and full of heart, much like that of Dorothy Parker. For those unfamiliar with Parker’s writing, The Portable Dorothy Parker is the ultimate collection of this literary icon’s famous one-liners.

    G.P. Putman’s Sons graciously sent me an advance review copy for my unbiased opinion.

    Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2013

     

     

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    Great

    I enjoyed this book a great deal. I laughed and I cried.

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    Posted March 4, 2013

     

     

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