Chandler Burr is the perfume critic for the New York Times and this, his fourth, book is a somewhat strange attempt to be sophisticated when the premise of the story is very juicy. Anne, “half American and English”, at the encouragement of a Hollywood executive starts a book club that goes from 3 members quickly to a sensation. She picks many 19th Century English novels...also picks Mamet, Dylan Thomas, A.E. Houseman, Yeats, Shaw, and othersI'm forgetting...Auden is her favorite writer. Anne’s husband, Howard, leads a Hollywood studio as kind of a producer material guru used to be an English professor mixed up denies his Jewish roots dude who quotes Shakespeare and knows a good book when he reads the flap kinda guy. Their son Sam is a nice teenager…a sensitive person.
Anne was smug. Howard needed to chill and just go kosher, already. And Sam…well I won’t ruin it but Sam’s trip to Israel gets weird and this family, who can definitely afford competent and weekly group and individual therapy, comes out OK in the end. It helps to have health care insurance.
But Anne, who will probably be portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow in the certainly optioned film with a soundtrack by hubbie’s Coldplay Band, is so full of herself and needs to get in touch with her American Lit side. Someone like Anne must be in Hollywood now producing yet another British costume drama starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Judi Dench.
Despite Anne annoying me, I enjoyed Cahndler's book very much. His writing is very cinematic. Somehow, the scenes came alive in my imagination. The whole “identity” search and confrontation theme is very pervasive these days and it is not unique to one ethnic experience…it’s a true modern American story… Certainly, we’ll see this as a film, right? I hope so!
Call Gwenyth, do lunch soon!