Monday, May 28, 2007

Birdie Clark's Because She Can (Warner Books, 2007)

The recent brouhaha over the firing of Judith Regan, President of Regan Books, a division of Harper Collins, has left the media wondering what really went on behind the scenes. Did media mogul fire Regan over the O.J. Simpson debacle (the book and interview)? Or was the firing due to Regan's anti-semitic comments to member of the Harper Collins staff? Regan, a controversial figure from the start, was fodder for a ton of rumors; staff members came and went unable to handle her difficult behavior while she continued to develop and sell best-selling books. Was she a woman misunderstood or a woman in search of fame, no matter how she could obtain it?

In Bridie Clark's new release, Because She Can, editor Claire Truman goes to work for a beast of a boss, the publishing giant and tyrant, Vivian Grant. Grant, is the head of Grant Publishers, a division of a larger company; as such she has sold more best-sellers than any other publisher in the country. Claire, in search of more money and the ability to find great authors, naively ignores all the warnings about Grant and takes on a job with the company. Things go spectaculary well for a bit, until Grant loses her cool and her vampire teeth come out. Determined to hold on for a year and reluctant to leave her newest author in a lurch, Claire deals with the abuse.In the midst of her work nightmare, Claire falls hard for her college crush, the rich and gorgeous Randall. Randall is all she has ever dreamed of and although things are lacking (no communication) in their relationship, she sticks it out.

Claire is a main character much like alot of us - we deny the reality in front of our eyes and talk ourselves into staying when we should be walking out the door. Claire will only come to realize what is truly important when she opens her eyes.Clark, a former editor at an unnamed publishing house, has written a fun, readable book. A quick read, the reader will wonder if there is a measure of truth to the tale of this very hostile work environment or if Clark is simply pulling from recent headlines. Either way, you'll cheer Claire on.

The Continuity Girl by Leah McLaren (Warner 5 Spot, April 2007)

On every movie shoot there is a person who is known as the continuity expert or the script supervisor. This person, usually a woman, must be exceptionally detail oriented as she has to insure that every take matches the previous one, that the small aspects (i.e. taking a sip of water, wearing a certain pair of shoes) are consistent. In Leah McLaren’s The Continuity Girl, Meredith Moore is the ultimate continuity girl; she lives her life on the straight and narrow, never moving off course...that is until her biological clock begins ticking loudly. As her 35th birthday approaches, she realizes that the one thing she really wants is a baby, not necessarily a husband, and so with the focus she uses on her job she begins to shop for the perfect sperm donor.

Although the plot line is not unique, McLaren has created a group of interesting characters that are funny, real and honest. Meredith’s best friend Mish has just miscarried, having created a fetus with sperm from her gay roommate. Meredith’s substitute gynecologist is the gorgeous Dr. Veil, a man that ultimately holds our heroine’s heart. Meredith’s mother, Irma, is an award winning poet who lives in a filthy London flat with no food in the fridge.

When Meredith loses her job on a Toronto film set, she moves to London to work on the elusive Osmond Crouch’s new film. In London, she meets a slew of men from the German artist to the bird obsessed Barnaby, but none seem right as sperm donor. When Dr. Veil comes to Europe to start fertility treatments for the star of the Crouch’s movie, he and Meredith fall hard and quick for one another. Soon, Meredith learns that life, unlike the movies, has its constant ups and downs, its total surprises.

McLaren writes in a style that is both insightful and humorous. The story is related in a way that is visual; we feel like we have stepped inside Osmond’s Italian villa, we know what Irma looks like. It is the author’s ability with words that makes the story a fun, compelling read.

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