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Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister
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Farewell, Dorothy Parker (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Ellen Meister

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Member:Beamis12
Title:Farewell, Dorothy Parker
Authors:Ellen Meister
Info:Putnam Adult (2013), Hardcover, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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Farewell, Dorothy Parker by Ellen Meister (2013)

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Have you ever played the history game where you can choose points in history you’d like to visit? For me, the era of the Algonquin Round Table in Manhattan is one such time. Men of great wit and intelligence drinking cocktails and being dominated by one of the greatest wits of all: Dorothy Parker. Given that choice, finding Ellen Meister’s novel, Farewell, Dorothy Parker was an early Christmas present.

Violet Epps is a movie critic whose writing is as sharp and honest as her personality is meek and mild. She struggles mightily to break off a relationship with a narcissistic moocher who main incentive is free rent. It is only when she meets him at the Algonquin Hotel and the manager brings over the guest book for her to sign that she encounters the woman who’s going to give her the spine she’s never had. It is as Violet runs her finger over the famous signature that she first encounters the spirit of Dorothy Parker, who has been locked within the book, thanks to a spell cast by the hotel’s original manager. Apparently she is desperately bored and ready for a drink and when she responds to Violet’s touch over her name she breaks free, entering Violet and getting her to dash out of the hotel with the book.

People of every generation seemed to think their contemporaries practically invented swear words, but Dorothy Parker and her friends were dropping the f-bomb way back in the 1920s.

Apparently, being possessed by a spirit is not as much fun as it might sound because it makes Violet violently ill but when she recovers in her apartment, she reopens the book and Parker takes physical form in the room. When the book is open she can appear but when it is closed she goes back to a limbo where she waits for the next opportunity to return. This manifestation leads to numerous gin and tonics and brisk lessons from Parker to Violet on how to assert herself. A lesson Violet sorely needs as she is trying to get custody of her niece after her sister’s death but is being fought by the paternal grandparents who think she is too flighty to be a guardian. She’s also battling a young administrative assistant who takes it upon herself to re-write (read massacre) one of Violet’s reviews and put it in the magazine under Violet’s name.

Farewell, Dorothy Parker is fun reading and then some. It is not just a humorous fantasy about Dorothy Parker living in your apartment and prompting you to do and say things you might not do or say (although that happens and is hilarious). Using prose that balances between humor and pain Meister creates a novel dealing with real-life issues while wrapped in a comedic blanket. I mentioned it was like an early Christmas present and it was—bright, shiny, unexpected, and made me smile. ( )
  cathgilmore | Jan 24, 2014 |
Farewell, Dorothy Parker, by Ellen Meister, is a witty novel about a young woman, Violet Epps, who encounters the spirit of Dorothy Parker when she opens a guest book in the Algonquin Hotel where the formidable, sexy, witty, often drunk, thoroughly irreverent Mrs. Parker and the Algonquin Round Table crew regularly met many years before. Dorothy Parker is allowed to escape the book when it is open but must stay within the room occupied by the book. The narrator, Violet Epps, a movie critic like Parker, gives sometimes-scathing reviews in writing, but in her private life is a shrinking violet. She isn't able to breakup with a boyfriend she loathes, establish a satisfactory relationship with a more suitable man, defend herself and her niece against her deceased sister's parents-in-law, or effectively standup for herself at work. The numerous dead include Dorothy Parker, Violet's sister and brother in law, who both died tragically in an accident leaving their daughter, orphaned and emotionally shattered, and Violet's own parents. Violet is locked in a custody battle with her niece’s clueless grandparents and nearly loses her job by her own timidity until she learns from Mrs. Parker how to fight back. But Violet's lessons from Mrs. Parker sometimes come with unexpected and unwanted force, episodes which have surprising and funny results. Eventually Violet regains her own voice and her power. Though the novel is infused with historical information about Dorothy Parker, it is also rather light like Mrs. Parker's own verse and writing. I would recommend it as a good summer read, but not something I would want to teach or reread for layers of literary meaning.
  blhooley | Jun 17, 2013 |
Movie critic Violet Epps is bold in print, but she has such a hard time speaking up in person that she’s at risk of gaining a roommate she doesn’t want (a boyfriend she’s trying to break up with) and losing the custody battle for her beloved niece. It seems like a godsend when the free-spirited, tart-tongued ghost of Dorothy Parker is released from a guestbook at the Algonquin Hotel because she starts giving Violet bold advice on how to manage her life, but things quickly get out of control.

I was completely caught up in the (mis)adventures of Violet, a thoughtful soul who badly wants to do the right thing for her niece, and while the Dorothy Parker in this book may not ring completely true for some readers, the story is so engaging I didn’t care. Though I knew generally the direction the plot would go in, I did not anticipate its every twist and turn, and the predicaments Violet got in kept me up way later than I should have been, unable to close the book for the night.

Farewell Dorothy Parker reminds me of Elinor Lipman’s novels, so it seemed fitting when I saw that Ms. Lipman had written an enthusiastic blurb for the back cover. According to Ellen Meister in the Author’s Note, she wrote the story she most wanted to read--one with Dorothy Parker as a character--and though full of witty repartee the book does have the warm quality of something written with love. Even the adversaries in the plot are treated with some sympathy and understanding. ( )
  Jaylia3 | Jun 5, 2013 |
Couldn't really get into this. Not sure why.
  ritaer | Jun 2, 2013 |
Prior to reading this book I had no idea who Dorothy Parker was and to be completely honest, if it wasn't for Ellen Meister, I most likely still wouldn't. At the first mention of her, intrigued, I turned to Wikipedia for a little background research. The website set pretty high expectations for the late Mrs. Parker's wit and cleverness, and the ghostly character created by Meister did not disappoint. From the time she's introduced to the novel as she takes over Violet's body and helps her break off her toxic relationship with Carl, through all their gin soaked conversations where she inspires and sometimes forces Violet to, well... grow a pair, to finally saving Violet's niece Delaney, she's witty, sarcastic and unapologetic, but all the more lovable because of that. A fantastic read, made me a huge Dorothy Parker AND Ellen Meister fan. ( )
  basia9018 | May 9, 2013 |
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Epigraph
The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.
--Dorothy Parker
Dedication
This book is dedicated to Betty Mogavero in loving memory
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Violet Epps stood before the maitre d' in the lobby lounge of the Algonquin Hotel, waiting to be noticed.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 039915907X, Hardcover)

What if inspiration came to visit...and wouldn't leave?

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 20th century.

If only Violet could summon that kind of courage in her personal life.

Determined to defeat her social anxiety, Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel to pull strength 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 Dorothy Parker's feisty spirit rematerializes from an ancient guestbook and hitches a ride onto her life.

Violet is shocked and thrilled to be face-to-face with her idol, but when the gin-swilling writer takes up residence in her home and grows pricklier and more outspoken by the day, the timid movie critic is pushed to her limit. With her job threatened, her new relationship in tatters, and the custody fight for her orphaned niece in jeopardy, Violet is forced to face her fears ...and she makes sure Mrs. Parker does the same.

Wickedly funny and surprisingly poignant, Farewell, Dorothy Parker perfectly re-imagines one of America's most iconic voices in a captivating and unforgettable tale.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:11 -0400)

"Determined to defeat her social anxiety, [powerhouse movie critic] Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel to pull strength 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 Dorothy Parker's feisty spirit rematerializes from an ancient guestbook and hitches a ride onto her life"--Dust jacket flap.… (more)

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