Tuesday, March 10, 2009

On The Lighter Side: The Return of Lizzie Miller

After finishing two "projects" back-to-back, I wanted something a little lighter. And I had just the thing: The First Assistant, by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare. I read the original right around this time last year. In re-reading that post, I was a little surprised at all I had to say about chick lit in general. I still think I'm right, I'm just a little surprised that that book was my case study, because I liked it more than I let on.

Lizzie is a little more settled in at her job as First Assistant now. Her former immediate boss has left The Agency to marry their real boss and have his child. Lizzie's still not all that wonderful at her job (the book opens with her admission that she just burned six months worth of filing because she wanted to play Sudoko instead. Oy!), but she enjoys it, for the most part. Things are rocky with her boyfriend Luke (still an asshole), as he's gone more often than he's in town. Lizzie's decided now that she wants to work her own way up the Hollywood ladder and produce. Her friend from the coffee shop screwed her out of a production credit when his movie got signed, but panicked after a bad screening. In one of the funnier scenes in the book, they both visit his agent, completely hammered, and get her reinstated as producer (this is important to the rest of the book).

The best part of the book comes when Lizzie winds up getting "traded" to a hot teen star for an on-location shoot in Thailand. Lizzie's vehemently opposed to going (her boss is getting a rare sports car in exchange) until her current boyfriend appears on the cover of People magazine with who she thought was his ex-girlfriend, in a story about the rekindling of their romance. I was going to say first that Emerald Everhart was obviously supposed to be Britney Spears...then Lindsay Lohan, but depressingly, she could represent any number of young, allegedly "wholesome" teen stars.

Lizzie's first task is to get a drunken, half-naked Emerald to stop stripping on the bar in the first-class airport lounge at 10AM, and it's pretty much all downhill from there. Emerald's an intriguing character. Her sex life and drug use would put the members of Motley Crue to shame, but she also clearly needs boundaries and a genuine friend in her life. She's extremely confused, gets good advice from no one, and needs someone to trust. Lizzie rises admirably to the occasion during her month with Emerald, and it's the part of the book that has the most heart (as well as being the funniest).

The book had a similar bizarre, deus-ex-machina ending as the first one. The Fates set Lizzie up once again for the same kind of hollow success. She gets the surface of everything she wants -- the job and the guy -- but not the reality. It has a seeminly happy ending, but does it really? Will her new job as part of Hollywood's Power Elite make her happier than she was at The Agency? Is she even prepared to take on such a task, given the roundabout way that it came to her? And will her relationship be any better on the second try? I guess we'll have to wait and see if the authors choose to continue Lizzie's saga.