06 January, 2014

Toxicology by Jessica Hagedorn [Emma, Birkenhead Library]

New York City: Filmmaker Mimi Smith is needing some encouragement to help her career. Money or cocaine will both assist, but only when her 14-year-old daughter Violet is not around. Fortunately, her neighbour, legendary writer Eleanor Delacroix (who at 84 is really too old to be doing such things), is happy to help. Since her partner Yvonne died, Eleanor has been lonely, and she has fancied Mimi for a long time. Not to mention, some young upstarts have requested Eleanor do a reading and an interview for their magazine, which makes her slightly nervous...

Fast-paced, fun and light-hearted, this book doesn't really have a full-on storyline to it, but it tells plenty. It is all about the characters, and I was gripped by their lives. We learn about Mimi and her pianist brother Carmelo, who grew up in the Philippines until their parents were killed by a bomb. We follow Violet and her friends as they hang out and play up. We hear about Eleanor's past, and her relationship with the gorgeous and talented Yvonne, a renowned painter.

The book begins fairly tongue-in cheek - a bit like Elmore Leonard for artists and chicks - but then it gets more serious, and a bit sad.  I didn't get too sad, because c'est le vie, and everyone was true to themselves.

I also never got bored, because no one was ever boring, and that was just what I needed at the time. The title is apt - don't read it if you are shocked by drug-taking.

Title: Toxicology
Author: Jessica Hagedorn
ISBN:  9780670022571
Published: New York, Viking, 2011

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