Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Farewell, Dorothy Parker - Review

Title: Farewell, Dorothy Parker
Author: Ellen Meister
Source: LibraryThing

Goodreads Summary:

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 twentieth century.
If only Violet could summon that kind of strength in her personal life.

Gripped by paralyzing anxiety, Violet visits the Algonquin Hotel in an attempt 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, and the feisty spirit rematerializes . . . hitching a ride onto Violet’s already troubled life.

An irreverent ghost with problems of her own—including a refusal to cross over to the afterlife—Mrs. Parker helps Violet face her fears, becoming mentor, tormentor, and, with any luck, friend.
Wickedly funny and surprisingly poignant, Farewell, Dorothy Parker perfectly re-imagines one of America’s most iconic voices in a touching and unforgettable tale.

My thoughts:

One of my long time dreams is to be able to stay at the Algonquin Hotel in New York, the very home of the Vicious Circle.  To see the (in)famous round table[i], and imagine those literary wits lunching and drinking and bandying back and forth. Even to walk the same rooms as they did would be like visiting a museum, in my mind. I could sit at the bar and drink whiskey sours, and pet Matilda. Perhaps I would hear some echo throughout its walls of Parker and her crew, but I can pretty much guarantee I would not be bringing her ghost home with me in a stolen guest book.

Which is what happens to Violet Epps.  Violet is a timid woman, who has lost her voice when speaking for herself.  She is able to be free when writing her movie reviews, which are often biting in tone, but when it comes to her and relationships, whether romantic or other otherwise, she is meek, a “shrinking violet” if you will. (I couldn’t resist!) An avid reader of Dorothy Parker, Violet , in efforts to bolster her confidence, often thinks to herself, WWDPD? 

When she suddenly finds herself host to the a spectral Dorothy, Violet’s careful world is thrown into chaos. Violet has been grieving the loss of her sister, and is fighting a custody battle for her niece, and suddenly there are gin bottles and cigarette butts everywhere.  The independent and mischievous Parker also encourages Violet to be stronger and fight for what she wants, although sometimes Parker’s methods cause more harm than good.   

Both characters have inner hang-ups that are holding them back; together these are explored, both helping the other in their own ways. To be honest, I didn’t think either were that traumatic or moving – maybe they just weren’t discussed deeply enough? I don’t know, I guess I just didn’t think their problems were a big deal, mainly Violet’s. I was kind of like get over it girl, whatever. 

The book also included facts about Parker’s life, and incorporated some of her most famous quotes and witticisms. I have to be honest; I was very worried about this aspect of the book. I didn’t know how it was going to be tackled, and I thought it could go very wrong. It was handled with a light hand though, and was not overdone. 

This book was whimsical and light and charming. Probably the opposite of Parker’s works in that way, but enjoyable none the less, as the book was more about Violet finding her strength with the help of Parker, than about Parker herself.  If you read and liked Kinsella’s Twenties Girl, this book was similar.  

Now I want to visit the Algonquin more than ever.  

And seriously, what was Dorothy Parker's favorite drink? I have heard so many versions of this answer, scotch or gin or whiskey sours?

[i] If it is even still there!


  1. I didn't know much about Dorothy Parker so I just spent some time on Wikipedia :) I totally want to read this now! Don't you wish there were still awesome literary salons like the Algonquin Round Table? I suppose book clubs are the closest thing we have to that.

    I was born in the wrong era ;)

    1. I like to pretend I was Dorothy Parker in a past life. ;) But I am really not that cool. Lol. I love her!! I have had a girl crush on her since forever. You need to read her stuff, her poetry is my favorite.

    2. And yes, I wish there were still awesome literary salons now, if I can't be part of the Algonquin Round Table. Lol. If only book clubs were like them. ;) Lol.

      I feel I was born in the wrong era too, I think I really belong in the 1920s. I can totally see myself as a party girl flapper. ;)

    3. I absolutely know what you mean ;) But I don't know where I'd fit best! There must be a quiz somewhere out there for that...

  2. I just accepted a book for review, which I very rarely do, because Dorothy Parker is a character in it (The House at the End of Hope Street). I adore her. Such an intelligent, sharp wit!

    1. I will have to read that book now!! Yes, I love her too!


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