"The Last Hollywood Romance" (Bridge Works, 240 pages, $22.95) is a disenchanting look at life behind the scenes of a popular TV sitcom.
The novel's "Life With Lucky" is a fictional show, but author Beverly Bloomberg has written for "Happy Days," "Chico and the Man" and other real shows. She uses that experience to take the story and the reader into the inside world of television. The book is full of show-biz stereotypes -- difficult talent, cocky writers and a mogul boss.
Emmaline and Bud, the show's writers, work together in a small office. They nudge each other's nerves until the predictable happens -- they fall in love! As they struggle to write a script and later to defend their jobs, their relationship explores comfort levels, and their communication, or lack of it, is played out in a battle of the sexes.
Divided into chapters alternating Emmaline's and Bud's voices, the novel seems like more of an outline sprinkled with details than a fleshed-out book. It does, however, frequently hook the reader with its sharp wit: "In some cities people walk. In Los Angeles, people who walk get run over. Unless they're ethnic, then they get arrested."
Events are sometimes confusing, and the book's best feature is the characters' thoughts, which surface continually throughout. But in the end, it fizzles.
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