When I Fall in Love

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Overview

Funny, feisty Lily Benjamin has it all-as a top television comedy writer she juggles her demanding job, single motherhood, and a satisfying romance with a well-respected doctor. But suddenly her life is turned upside down. Her relationships grow lackluster, her housekeeper ups and quits...and,tragically, her mentor and boss dies-leaving her at the mercy of her new boss. Charlie Roth, known as the God of Jokes, is heartless, hilarious, and off-the-wall crazy...and with terrible ...

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Overview

Funny, feisty Lily Benjamin has it all-as a top television comedy writer she juggles her demanding job, single motherhood, and a satisfying romance with a well-respected doctor. But suddenly her life is turned upside down. Her relationships grow lackluster, her housekeeper ups and quits...and,tragically, her mentor and boss dies-leaving her at the mercy of her new boss. Charlie Roth, known as the God of Jokes, is heartless, hilarious, and off-the-wall crazy...and with terrible problems of his own.

But when a new tragedy strikes Lily's life, Charlie's coldhearted exterior melts away, revealing the sensitive spirit of a man who understands heartache as no one else can...who helps Lily and her son rebuild their lives...and makes her believe that love can happen when you least expect it.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Laughter is the best medicine, Dart (Beaches) wants us to believe, and she makes her case in a risky, wrenching story with a curious flaw. Though the novel offers endless punning and stand-up material, it's rarely funny, and even with the comic spotlight on the so-unlikely-it's-inevitable romance between two Emmy-level TV comedy writers, Lily Benjamin and Charlie Roth, neither their initial antagonism nor eventual alliance makes for laughs. And given the plot, readers do need those healing peals. In the opening pages, single mother Lily's teenage son, Bryan, is shot; yesterday a promising tennis star, he now faces life as a paraplegic. Lily's fianc , Mark Freeman, a handsome, kind, terminally unimaginative cardiologist (he gives her heart-shape presents and uses song lyrics to speak his own heart), wants Bryan and Lily to feel the tragedy, mourn their loss, adjust hopes downward. But then there is Charlie, known in the TV industry as the God of Jokes. Crippled in infancy, he was encouraged by his parents to use a no-holds-barred humor as his weapon against prejudice and self-doubt. Charlie preaches a medicine of ruthless humor, toughness and, above all else, gratitude--for the cripple, in his view, is freed from the illusion of physical perfection and lives truer to his soul. This main theme is echoed in the subplot, in which Lily's chubby lesbian sister confronts the siblings' judgmental, snobby mother. Other minor characters, like the ensemble of sitcom-writing co-workers, are burdened with a nearly unbearable comic banter attempting an outr irreverence. Though her formula is decidedly Hollywood, Dart's message, that people aren't what they look like, is sincere; her book takes serious and heartfelt looks at the bigotries of able-bodied folk and the realities of the disabled. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Television comedy writer Lily Benjamin's life plays more like a tragedy. She's a single mother, her mentor just died, her son is paralyzed by a bullet, and the network hires the "God of Jokes," Charlie Roth, to produce her show. Her first meeting with Charlie is disastrous: she has no idea he has cerebral palsy. In fact, she's alternately repulsed by and ashamed of him. However, when Charlie convinces her son to see beyond his wheelchair, Lily must reexamine her own prejudices. Susie Breck gives an incredible performance; her slightly slurred, slow-talking Charlie conveys a real yet positive image. Breck handles the variety of other voices just as skillfully. However, she does not overcome Lily's unsympathetic character; Lily never develops appreciably as a person so is not believable when she declares her love for Charlie. Despite the fine reading, purchase only where Dart is popular.--Jodi L. Israel, MLS, Jamaica Plain, MA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Kirkus Reviews
Dart (Show Business Kills, 1995, etc.) returns with yet another commercial tearjerker, a story that has success written all over it. Herself a former comedy writer, Dart presents us with Lily Benjamin, TV comedy writer, whose 15-year-old son, Bryan, has his spinal cord severed by a jealous husband's gunfire. That's the opening scene, hinting horribly that this deeply amusing novel is going to veer off into sober melodrama before it ends. But it doesn't — it stays right on track for a soap-operatic climax. And Lily is surrounded by plum roles for actors. Her boss, hospitalized top comedy writer Harry Green, lies dying of cancer but still flowing with jokes and writing the latest episode of a schlocky sitcom. When Harry dies, he's replaced by Charlie Roth, the God of Jokes to all comedy writers. Sometimes referred to as Quasimodo, Charlie is a physical mess, with a head forever bobbing, a gait so rolling and twisted he can barely climb steps — and a face that's no pleasure to look at, either. When the comedy team gets to work on a new sitcom episode and Lily complains about their cigar smoke, Charlie hangs her by her ankles out the fourth-floor window. Yes, he's stolen this trick from Sid Caesar and Mel Brooks, but even so it doesn't endear him to Lily. Thus when Charlie, with humor and tricks, begins helping fellow cripple Bryan recover his will to live, Lily, now engaged to a blandly handsome cardiologist, is slow to respond. As for the climax, it will go down in pop history when it's filmed. . .
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380731985
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 12/28/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Iris Rainer Dart is the author of eight novels, including the much-beloved New York Times bestseller Beaches. The mother of two children, she lives in California with her husband.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Harry Green was on his deathbed in Cedars-Sinai hospital, which to him was no reason to stop being funny. Every day Lily and the other writers came to his room at Cedars, which Harry joked was "a kidney stone's throw away from CBS," and there they stayed all day to write Angel's Devils, a sitcom whose prognosis was nearly as bad as Harry's. Though the doctors were sure this was his final hospital stay and that it would be only a matter of days until he died from the cancer that was invading what was left of him, Harry was determined to hang on until the end of the season.

So every morning he pushed the button that made the head of the bed deliver his cadaverous body into a sitting position. Then he welcomed the writers with his skin-and-bones arms open wide and a whole slew of thoughts he'd had in his drugged haze of the night before.

"A rabbi, a priest, and a Buddhist monk walked into chemotherapy," Harry offered as the writers looked askance. Then he shrugged. "Hey, they say you should write what you know."

"That's funny," Marty said, and with his foot he positioned Lily's chair closest to the bed since she was the only woman on the staffand a hot-looking one-and Harry was not dead yet.

The daily pilgrimage of the Angel's Devils writing staff to the hospital had become a natural part of their lives since Harry had announced to them one dreary, rainy morning, in the middle of a pitch meeting, that he was too cancer-ridden to come into the office anymore. When the bozos at the network got the news of Harry's illness, they wanted to replace him immediately, but Marty went to their offices and swore to them that "even while he'scroaking, Harry Green is funnier than anyone else out there." And incredibly, they bought it.

So Harry stayed on the Angel's Devils payroll, continuing to be a beneficiary of ongoing Writer's Guild health insurance, and instead of working in the bleak little offices at CBS, the writers wrote the show crowded into a circle around his hospital bed. All of them were oblivious to the monitors and the TVs and the visits from the nurses who wound their way through the group to provide Harry with his pain medication. And they all rose obediently whenever the nurses came to shoo them out when Harry needed some procedure that required privacy.

Even Dorie, the show's typist, came to the hospital every day, plugged in her laptop, and clickity-clacked away, taking notes on all the story ideas and keeping track of the jokes that were flying around the room. And from time to time, Harry's wife, Rosie, peeked in and smiled, because she knew this was the way Harry wanted to go out-doing shtick.

When the workday was over and the other writers left, Lily made a point of staying for a while to be alone with Harry. Not to talk or joke anymore, just to let him know she loved him. Most of the time he had already fallen asleep from exhaustion; but now and then his eyelids would flutter, and he would see her there and manage a smile.

"Is it too late to take herbal remedies?" he asked.

"Never too late," she said, moving closer to hold his bony, veiny hand.

I guess I shoulda listened to all that shit you told me about nutrition. When you warned me that guacamole wasn't a vegetable."

"Harry, get some sleep," she said, not wanting to leave but knowing it was time.

"Don't stay on this shlocky show after this season's over," he said. "Next year you get on a classy sitcom."

"No such animal," she said, using one of Harry's own expressions. Even though his eyes were closed, a smile fluttered across Harry's lips.

She didn't say what everyone knew, which was that after Harry was gone there would be no more Angel's Devils. Harry Green was the King of jokes, and he kept the ideas coming and the show treading water.

"I'll think about changing," she promised, not even sure that any other show would want her.

It must be late, Lily realized. The black night had turned the hospital room window into a mirror, and she wondered as she caught a glimpse of herself in it how Mark could love her as much as he said he did. Her fine, dark, straight hair lay lifeless against her head. Her heavy-lidded eyes looked sleepy. She was tired and looking more haggard than a thirty-eightyear-old woman was supposed to, and she was overwhelmed with sadness.

As soon as it was clear by Harry's breathing that he was asleep for the night, Lily gathered her legal pad and purse and headed for the door, looking back at him, her beloved mentor...

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2004

    You'll find yourself not wanting to put this book down!

    This book makes you feel like your living in the shoes of Lily Benjamin. You will laugh and you will cry. But I promise by the time you are done reading this book, you will be pleased! Very Well Writen...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2002

    You'll find yourself not wanting to put this book down!

    This book makes you feel like your living in the shoes of Lily Benjamin. You will laugh and you will cry. But I promise by the time you are done reading this book, you will be pleased! Very Well Writen...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2000

    A GOOD BOOK

    This was a good book, and it didn't take me long to feel as if I knew the characters in my real life. I thought at times I Knew how it was going to end, and suddenly the plot changed and made me guess again.I really enjoyed this book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2000

    Great Beach Book

    Who could cheer for the sarcastic pain in the *** - you do! The story keeps going and is a great summer read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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