By Lian Dolan
Prospect Park Books, 276 pages, $15.95
When community college professor and Shakespeare scholar Elizabeth Lancaster unexpectedly receives an invitation from her ex-husband to spend the summer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as his creative consultant, she jumps at the chance. Between an interfering family, a kitchen in desperate need of remodeling, a book proposal going nowhere and a love life stuck in neutral, getting away from Pasadena for a couple of months is just what she needs. With Maddie, her teenage step-niece in tow, she heads for Ashland and an entirely new set of complications, of the familial, academic, artistic and romantic kind.
Delightfully written by the creator of the Satellite Sisters, a popular NPR talk show, podcast, blog and website, Dolan’s second novel is smart, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable. Every chapter includes women’s magazine-like charts, quizzes, and quick facts from a relationship book Elizabeth proposes writing that expands on the idea that today’s pop culture power couples are Shakespearean archetypes. Think “Three Guys Your Mom Will Love” (hint: Count Paris from Romeo & Juliet) or “Which Shakespearean Bad Boy Is for You?” (If you are a suburban sorority sister, Falstaff is your guy). This is chick lit, with a regional twist, at its best. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen