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Flora and Margot were best friends. When Flora’s teenage daughter Ruby starts to rebel against her parents, her close relationship with childless Margot feels like a betrayal. Both women started as stage actors with the eponymous East Coast theater troupe but now have relocated to LA—Margot in TV, Flora doing voiceovers. A discovery uncovers a secret that unmoors Flora’s marriage to Julian, another actor. The reunion back at Good Company brings it all to light and painfully offers some clarity and a chance for new beginnings. Domestic drama and theater—a delicious combo in my book.
Mid ‘30s in Oklahoma is not a good place to be if you’re penniless. Dillard’s been searching fruitlessly for work. He and daughter Lucile, 13, are “rescued” by fast-talking, diminutive Clint and thus starts a bizarre odyssey in which Dil disappears and Lucile becomes Clint’s partner in more ways than one. She’s essentially helpless as more and more scuzzy actions occur, culminating in fatalities that lead to a trial. Based on true events and ranging throughout the West, it’s a galloping, disturbing tale that really grabbed my attention.
On a small island in Norway a huge storm kills almost all the men who were out fishing. It’s 1617 and some of the women, led by intrepid Kirsten, break tradition and take the boats out; they have to eat. However political skirmishing brings an overseer, Absalom, to town with his clueless new wife, Ursa. He has a reputation as a witch-hunter and there’s plenty of fodder here. Ursa needs lots of help and young widow Maren is drafted. A covert relationship blooms between them. Sinister, elemental, suspenseful and very atmospheric.
The title refers to Sleeping Beauty, here reimagined in contemporary times from a feminist perspective. Zinnia, 21, is dying. She’s philosophical about her condition (with a soupçon of bitterness). Her only friend Charm is trying to make what’s left of Zinnia’s life good. Somehow (this is a fairy tale after all) they slip into another dimension where a princess in distress needs help and gets it from the two time-travelers. From rural Ohio and back, princess in tow, with remedies for all. Nothing like a happy ending with lots of sly wit along the way.
Simon from Coney Island finds himself working for a prestigious publisher (a relative got him the job) and is saddled with a hush-hush assignment. The eponymous manuscript, a dreadfully overwritten fictionalization about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, will supposedly be a huge hit and bring in big, much-needed bucks. The book’s putative author is a mysterious bombshell who seduces Simon but seems disinterested in his edits. Simon, a liberal, hates the way Ethel is portrayed and hopes to tweak the manuscript. But it’s all a shell game, he discovers towards the end, and whatever idealistic innocence he started with is sorely challenged. Intelligent and entertaining.
Back next week.