Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Second Assistant, by Clare Naylor and Mimi Hare

I was craving some, as I put it, "light, fluffy reading" after reading a series of nonfiction books, as well as a heavy-duty chunkster. I actually found the sequel to this work at Barnes and Noble, then got that, along with this book, from Paperback Swap.

It is, indeed, light, fluffy reading at its finest. A great, groovy beach read. It's a very quick read, but it's not so absorbing that you can read it all in one sitting.

The Second Assistant is the story of Elizabeth "Lizzie" Miller, a Rockville, Maryland native who moves out to California to become a second assistant at a powerful Los Angeles talent agency. Show business is a culture shock to Lizzie, who spent the first couple of years out of Georgetown working in Washington, DC for her local congressman. Her job ends when it's discovered that her boss has embezzled campaign funds.

However, at a major DC party, Lizzie meets Daniel Rosen, president of The Agency (the aforementioned talent agency), who is so impressed with her that he slips her his business card. Lizzie doesn't take up this job lead until her own job with the congressman fizzles. Soon enough, she ends up in LA.

Lizzie is very naive, and the authors get her in the most embarrassing situations. For starters, during her first week in LA, she gets accidentally hit with a hockey puck, and a man takes her back to his house and nurses her back to health. It turns out that the man is Jake Hudson, known around town to be a sleazy producer who has slept with every woman in town. Lizzie wasn't aware this man was when he came to her rescue, but when she does find out who he is, it's too late. She starts to lose the respect of the other assistants who work at The Agency.

Then there's the situation where she has to organize a major Hollywood party for Daniel Rosen, gets drunk, and ends up naked in a pool with another sleazy Hollywood producer. She ends up, at her boss's insistence, going on another date with this guy--which also ends in disaster.

Lizzie's boss, Scott Wagner, is a drug-addicted online poker player who is crushing his Ritalin tablets and then snorting them. She is not entirely sure whether to trust him or not, but she is fiercely loyal to him, and he to her.

Within the context of this story, Lizzie is also trying to help her barista friend Jason get a deal with a major studio for a screenplay that he has written, Sex Addicts in Love.

Lizzie weighs her options at various points of the book. Does she want to go back to politics, or does she want to stay in Tinseltown? Who can she trust? Who could she have as a friend? What does she value? What are her morals?

At times I got so frustrated with Lizzie's naivete that I put the book down and walked away from it. But some of the anecdotes were so bizarre that I kept coming back to it. One agent, for example, has Lizzie dry clean the clothes on the Barbie dolls she keeps in her office. Mimi Hare, one of the book's co-authors, was, "at twenty-three, the director of development for a Hollywood production company where she worked on feature films such as Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets," according to the author's summary.

Still, in spite of her naivete, I found myself cheering for Lizzie. I was hoping that she, in the words to an old tv theme song, "was gonna make it after all." She works hard, she's honest, and she's trusting. She doesn't want to do anything behind anyone's back. Lizzie is a very likable character, and I often sympathized with her.

As beach season approaches, consider adding The Second Assistant to your tote bag. In spite of its shortcomings, it really is a lot of fun. And pick up the sequel, too. I just started it and am curious to find out how Lizzie's doing in Hollywood.

This is the latest entry in my 2009 100+ Reading Challenge, my 2009 1st in a Series Challenge, my 2009 A to Z Challenge, as well as my 2009 Read Your Own Books Challenge. Click on any of the buttons in the right sidebar for archived lists of all of my reads!


Celia said...

If you want enjoyable fluff you NEED Enchanted, INC.

Anonymous said...

I adore light fluffy reading! :)