Movie critic Violet Epps is outspoken ... on paper. In person, she suffers from crippling social anxiety. She's afraid to break up with her loser/user boyfriend. She's afraid to speak up to her niece's grandparents ... the ones whom she is battling for custody of the teenaged girl after Violet's sister and husband die in a car accident. She's afraid to talk to her kung fu instructor, Michael, because she has a crush on him.
In other words, she's kind of a mess.
Until the day she decides to go to the Algonquin Hotel and eat where her literary idol, Dorothy Parker, used to dine -- and to break up with Carl, the loser/user. Because Carl announces her name loudly (he believes that dating her gives him prestige), Violet is asked to sign the Algonquin's historical guest book ... which, as soon as it is opened, releases the ghost of Dorothy Parker.
When Violet accidentally takes the guest book home, Dorothy comes with her.
What ensues is a story so clever and poignant that I alternately laughed and yes, cried. We learn why Violet developed her social anxiety and watch Dorothy help her through it -- physically, in some instances. We are treated to Parker's sardonic wit, tempered with more love than Parker's fans might expect. We see characters who are all in pain, trying to get through life the best they can without letting anyone know how much they need anyone else. In other words, they're all very realistic people -- including, interestingly enough, Dorothy Parker's ghost.
Most of all, what we get is a book that was so delightful that I finished it in a single day -- I did not want to stop reading. Highly recommended.