Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date: June 7, 2022
Genres: Book Clubs, Debut, Fiction, Chick Lit, Vacation Reading
When Nora’s husband leaves their family to pursue his dreams, she does what she always does—she writes about it. Nora earns her living writing romance movies for cable TV, but in Nora Goes Off Script she changes things up and writes reality. The result is a screenplay that gets picked up by a major studio, complete with movie stars in the lead roles. All of whom descend on Nora’s property in upstate New York and immediately turn her carefully structured life and routine upside down.
Nora’s office is an old-fashioned tea house built on the back of her property by the home’s original owner. It’s her sanctuary and the focal point of the movie. But what was supposed to be three days of inconvenience shifts when the movie’s leading man, Leo Vance, a handsome A-lister, asks if he can stay for an additional week. He needs time to decompress and has fallen in love with her property. And, just like that, there’s the plot.
There are no surprises to much of Nora Goes Off Script. Leo’s week turns into three as he revels in the normalcy of Nora’s life with her two children. Suddenly, he’s going to the grocery store, turning up at soccer practice, and even helping out with her 10-year-old’s school play. His delight in her life is charming, as is the fact that they start to fall in love. Until Hollywood calls.
What the heck?! Who am I, right? The expected me would be rolling my eyes and pretending to throw up in my mouth at this point, but whether it’s the beautiful spring weather here or just a longing for simple, comforting reading, Nora Goes Off Script works. Why? Because Nora is happy in her life with her children. She’s fulfilled and when Leo leaves it’s crushing, but she moves on. There’s no histrionics or complete breakdown. She’s sad, she’s hurt, but she has a life and she goes back to it. Real life.
My guess is this is what’s now called “modern romance” and if it is, I’m intrigued. I love that the man (or whichever gender the other person might be) is not the goal, the savior, the solution. Does it wrap up neatly in the end? Absolutely, but the sweetness feels organic, not saccharine. The difference between the two lies in the writer’s voice. The balance between earnest and humorous is critical in order for me to buy into the concept. Thankfully, Nora Goes Off Script lands perfectly, making this light, lovely reading.
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