Elizabeth the First Wife

May 23, 2013

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 2.03.12 AMAnother laugh-out-loud romp through Pasadena by Lian Dolan (author of Vroman’s all-time best seller Helen of Pasadena) that oh-so-gently sends up institutions beloved (and sometimes berated) by us all, while keeping the plot moving and the characters familiar, believable, and relatable.

Elizabeth Lancaster is a divorced professor of Shakespeare at PCC. She lives in a vintage adobe inherited from her grandmother, but the rest of her tight-knit, intrusive family isn’t doing her many favors. Her mother is the Chair of the Showcase House, scheming to get Elizabeth, if not married, at least a decent hair cut and a better job. Her father, the Caltech professor/Nobel Laureate, relates to her mostly on the tennis court. Sister #1, a successful physician, is the sympathetic one, while Sister #2, whose husband is considering running for governor, is perennially trying to set Elizabeth up with unsuitable suits. Elizabeth is a freer spirit who is puttering around with a book proposal, mulling over a kitchen remodel, and finally getting over her ex-husband while vaguely wondering “Is this all there is?”

Author Lian Dolan

Author Lian Dolan

Enter the ex-husband, the ultra-famous sex-god movie star FX Fahey, who has signed on to do an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Ashland, Oregon (under the direction of impresario Taz Buchanan). FX prevails on Elizabeth to help him return to the stage, offering her a summer in idyllic Ashland. She sees it as an opportunity to prove herself in many ways: can she move on from FX? Can she finally write a book? Can she separate from her family?

I won’t spoil the plot, but Elizabeth CAN keep us laughing as she juggles relatives, career, and a love-life. She brings her niece along to Ashland as an assistant, acquires a stray dog, gets caught up in the production and manages to help her house-sitter light her old Wedgwood stove via Skype. The witty Shakespeare pages — excerpts from Elizabeth’s book fusing Shakespeare and pop culture —  are worth the price of admission (Power Couple #3: The Macbeths, Most Likely To Hold Office; Team Romeo Vs. Team Hamlet Vs. Team Twilight), but you’ll want to stay with Elizabeth the First Wife until the curtain call.




Flintridge Books

Lyd and Mo Photography

Louis Jane Studios

Homage Pasadena