Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Trudy Hopedale eBook Edition

Trudy Hopedale was perfect beach reading -- a novel, alternatively narrated by two self absorbed, petty, social climbing but amusing protagonists: Trudy Hopedale and Donald Frizzé.

Trudy is a hostess. A Washington society hostess (the second wife of a 40-year veteran of the Foreign Service) and a daily local talk show hostess. And Trudy is staring irrelevance in the face. Her age is making her irrelevant on her own show where she is about to be replaced by a younger, prettier face. To add injury to insult, the changing of power in 2000-2001 (from Clinton to Bush) is making her irrelevant as a social mover and shaker.

Donald is a handsome vice presidential historian of undetermined sexual identity. He is suffering from a crushing case of writer’s block and filling his time by being a television guest commentator.

I have to say up front that neither one of them are sympathetic characters. Their self obsession and disregard for anything outside of their immediate concern makes them distinctly unlikable. And yet the novel works. Trudy and Donald are so awful that they are funny.

Then there is the whole side plot with Trudy’s husband Roger who is writing a novel. We are “treated” to excerpts of his Washington thriller novel. The writing is so overblown and obvious that I actually laughed out loud.

Jeffery Frank obviously knows Washington D.C. and his characterizations are hilarious. You can tell he had fun writing this novel; from the names of his characters (Royal Arsine, Jennifer Pouch and Archie Butt) to his description of the right wing talk show host Bucky and Trudy’s overbearing (and possibly delusional) mother-in-law.

Perfect summer escape! Just literary enough to make you think you aren't reading total trash.

Here is the official stuff:

On the eve of the 2000 election, the charmed life of Washington hostess Trudy Hopedale is quietly falling apart. Her daytime talk show is about to be hijacked by a younger, prettier assistant, and then there is the horrifying novel that her husband has written in secret, which contains some rather troubling implications for a former Foreign Service colleague. And what is her mother-in-law telling everyone?

Trudy's dear friend Donald Frizzé has benefited greatly from their friendship. A widely recognized expert on the U.S. vice presidency and a frequent guest on Trudy's program, Donald's latest scholarly pursuit is a highly anticipated biography of Garrett Augustus Hobart, McKinley's VP. Exactly who anticipates this book is hard to say, and soon Donald finds himself dodging the awkward questions of plagiarism and his sexuality, frequently during the same conversation.

Amid tides of intrigue and shifting allegiances, this little town's extraordinary inhabitants swim helplessly, and alarmingly, toward their remarkable fates. With a bewitching sense of nostalgia, Jeffrey Frank has written an exquisitely funny, tender, and deeply perceptive novel that vividly invokes the simpler world of only yesterday

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