The Accidental Bestseller

Friday, February 26, 2010

(I had a difficult time finding a better image, so this one will have to do. The actual cover doesn't have those lines across it).

Like many readers and writers, I have always enjoyed reading books ABOUT books and reading and writing. And especially with all the excited talk about BEA and the book blog con coming up I thought it would be fun to read a book about a group of friends who meet up at a writing conference and then work on writing a book together!

In Wendy Wax's novel, The Accidental Bestseller, four writer friends start out at an awards ceremony hoping that one of their foursome will win the coveted writing award. The backstory is that these friends initially met at a writing conference and became great friends 10 years ago. Unfortunately, in the current day, each of the women is dealing with their own issues. Mallory is a famous best-selling author who turns out book after book even though it means ignoring everything else in her life. I pictured her in my head as the Danielle Steele of the group. Then there's Tanya who is as Southern as southern can be. She uses her writing for a romance imprint as a third job to make extra money. Faye Truett writes Christian Fiction and is the wife of a famous televangelist. Kendall, the main character, writes the more run-of-the-mill books and hasn't written anything especially successful. In fact, her publisher has decided to end her contract once they get her last book. Even then they don't plan on doing much to promote her last book. Complicating matters, Kendall learns her husband is cheating on her and plans on selling their home. Kendall then escapes to the mountains of North Carolina where she tries to write her last book, cope with her husband's infidelities, and keep all of this away from her children who are away at college.

These four women have a fiercely supportive friendship so when Kendall is too devastated and engulfed in her sorrows to write her next book, the three other women chip in and help her. In fact, each of these women has a secret she's been keeping and they each decide to hide these secrets in the work of fiction they create for Kendall. The biggest secret of all, of course, is that all these women collaborated on the book that will have only Kendall's name on it. Little do they know how immediately popular this book will become, how their secrets will come out, and what they'll learn about each other. Their friendships will be tested in more than one way as they deal with learning these truths and sharing credit for the book.

The Accidental Bestseller was a fun glimpse into the lives of writers and the publishing industry. Some scenes take place in the publisher's office and we see the different things that go into publishing and marketing a book. While I, personally, have always wanted to be a writer and was interested in their day-to-day work, I was also intrigued by the job of the editor's assistant as I think working in publishing would be fun too. The editor that's assigned to Kendall is a mean, unhappy woman very reminiscent of Miranda Priestley from Devil Wears Prada. I related to her assistant's character and found that situation to be funny (but only because I wasn't in it!)

It was interesting to read a book about 4 women writers who are together writing a book about 4 women writers working on a book together.... still with me? Have you ever stood in a room that had a mirror in front of you and a mirror in back of you and notice that the reflection of you in the mirror is repeated over and over for infinity? Or have you looked at a picture of a person holding a picture of a person holding a picture etc. for infinity? That's sort of how this book was. I imagine that much of the writers' experiences were that of the authors as were the hopes and dreams they had too. Some of what happens in the book (starting with how the book absolutely takes off the way it does) is unrealistic. But that's okay in a book to sometimes have that because that's what makes it fun. Just because I highly doubt much of the subsequent scenarios would never happen in real life doesn't mean I didn't smile and laugh and find myself immersed in the story. The only other gripe I do have to mention is that some of the characters were such caricatures to me. I can see where the author may have done this in order to separate each of the four women from each other, but at first it was a little annoying. The editor of Kendall's book, who I mentioned above, was also a stereotypical soulless boss but then it was easier to relate to her assistant.

I worried that these big secrets that were going to come out were going to be anticlimactic. But when they were finally revealed I felt satisfied, and the secrets did add to the storyline. I enjoyed seeing how each of these revealed truths played themselves out afterward and how everything was resolved.

In all, I thought this was a fun read about 4 women in the writing/publishing industry who inadvertently reveal their innermost secrets to the world and cope with the effects of this. The only thing I want to be sure to add, though, is that much of this doesn't happen until the last quarter of the book. Much of the novel is about the friendship of the 4 women and how they are coping with things that are already going on from the beginning of the book.


justicejenniferreads said...

This sounds like a really fun read. It has all the elements i love in a novel: friendship, writing, writers, secrets, and a little bit of drama. Definitely going to go pick this one up. Great review.

Chutzpah said...

This book sounds really interesting and a great read. Thanks for sharing!

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