June 30, 2013

Review: Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan

Elizabeth the First Wife
Author: Lian Dolan
Genre: Women's Fiction
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Prospect Park Books


Elizabeth Lancaster, an English professor at Pasadena City College, finds her perfectly dull but perfectly orchestrated life upended one summer by three men: her movie-star ex-husband, a charming political operative, and William Shakespeare. Until now, she’d been content living in the shadow of her high-profile and highly accomplished family. Then her college boyfriend and one-time husband of seventeen months, A-list action star FX Fahey, shows up with a job offer that she can’t resist, and Elizabeth’s life suddenly gets a whole lot more interesting. She’s off to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for the summer to make sure FX doesn’t humiliate himself in an avant-garde production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

As she did so skillfully with her first novel, Helen of Pasadena, which spent more than a year on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list, Lian Dolan spins a lively, smart, and very funny tale of a woman reinventing her life in unexpected ways.

Elizabeth the First Wife is a fun and witty women's fiction novel that follows leading lady Elizabeth Lancaster, who is currently a professor of English at Pasadena City College in California. Normally Elizabeth leads a predictable and boring life outside her classroom, but one summer she finds her life turned upside down as three different men demand her attention. The first is her ex-husband - a movie star, the second a political operative, and third is none other than William Shakespeare. Elizabeth takes off for the Sheakespeare Festival in Oregon to make sure her ex doesn't humiliate himself or the bard as he takes part in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Elizabeth's boring and sensible life will never be the same.

This was a really charming novel that follows the wonderful main character of Elizabeth and a summer of unexpected reinvention. Elizabeth is a great lead - she's funny, intelligent, witty, and devoted to friends and family. She likes her regular, normal life - it's so different from the life of her ex-husband and her family. I immediately liked her character and her attitude, which enabled me to identify with her early on in the novel. The plot wasn't completely original, but the author wrote it with such vivid detail and smart dialogue that it completely sets it apart from other novels in the genre. There are some romantic issues in the book, but the way that the author approached them wasn't cheesy, but actually enhanced the overall story line. The writing itself was very well done and shows the talent of the author throughout each page. The plot was seamless with a good pace and dialogue that flowed effortlessly. This was a breezy and lighthearted novel that would be perfect for fans of women's fiction and chick lit.

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