Share this article

print logo

Letters from Los Angeles

Light, frothy and easy to finish.

That's not just your poolside margarita -- it should be your midsummer read, as well.

And so, with that, here comes the July selection of the Buffalo News' Book Club, a tale that admirably displays those sought-after qualities: "The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters," by screenwriter-turned-novelist Elisabeth Robinson.

You'll find this novel compulsively readable, even in the short spurts that summertime reading seems to come compressed into. For one thing, it's written in a chatty, warm style -- think of Carrie Fisher's "Postcards From the Edge," and you'll not be far off.

Like that novel, too, Robinson's 2004 fiction debut unfolds in a series of funny, frantic missives -- here, the letters, e-mails and faxes sent by the central character, Olivia Hunt, to important people in her life. "It's one of the things I like about writing letters," Olivia writes at one point, "I know I'll have the person's full and undivided attention."

As the novel opens, Olivia, a 34-year-old Hollywood movie producer whose career is in a downward slide, finds out that her sister Maddie -- a good girl who stayed home in Ohio, married young and had children -- has a drastically bad form of cancer.

Olivia shuttles rapidly between Ohio and Los Angeles, then to Spain, trying to care for her sister at the same time that she works to revive her career by producing a movie version of "Don Quixote" -- with stars Robin Williams and John Cleese, no less. Mixed into these dual plotlines is Olivia's attempt to reconnect with Michael, the ex-boyfriend whom she can't get out of her system and just can't seem to find any time for, either. And then there's Tina, the close friend whom she seems to have drifted apart from without meaning to.

"The Hunt Sisters" offers an interesting insider's look at the way movies get made in Hollywood, and it touches the heart in its treatment of the strange, strong dynamics that exist between sisters, especially when one of them is affected by illness.

Enjoy it in the shade, and then write to let us know what you think.

As always, we're interested to hear from you at: Book Club, The Buffalo News, P.O. Box 100, Buffalo, N.Y., 14240. Or you can e-mail us at


In other Book Club matters, readers responded with applause to the June selection of an Anne Tyler novel, "Breathing Lessons," which won a Pulitzer Prize.

"I am very fond of Anne Tyler's books," said Jack Edson, director of the Hamburg Public Library and a Tyler fan who will speak about the author's novel "Digging to America" on Sept. 18 at the "Books Sandwiched In" event at the Central Library in Buffalo. "I love Baltimore and I think her Baltimore scenes remind me of Buffalo, these sort of totally nutsy characters, the fantastic way she 'catches' these little things people do and say."

For readers who loved "Breathing Lessons," any of the other Tyler novels will make another fine choice for summer reading. "The Accidental Tourist," "The Amateur Marriage," "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant" -- with Tyler, you really can't go wrong.




By Elisabeth Robinson

352 pages, paperbackIn bookstores; $5 right now on "Bargain Books"

There are no comments - be the first to comment