Synopsis (from Barnes & Noble):
When Mercury is in retrograde, the only guarantee is anything that can go wrong, will.
Penelope Mercury, an intrepid reporter at the New York Telegraph, has pounded the pavement for five years from city borough to borough, carrying out her boss's eccentric orders to break stories that seem inconsequential to everyone but him. Finally, she is inches away from being promoted to her dream job -- covering courtroom drama for the paper -- but after one spectacularly disastrous day, she is fired instead.
Lena "Lipstick Carcrash" Lippencrass has a pretty fabulous life, even by a socialite's standards, as a top editor at the high fashion magazine Y. Long lunches with her girlfriends and afternoons spent shopping at Bergdorf's are all in a day's work. But when Lena's always indulgent parents abruptly cut off her cash flow and kick her out of her beloved West Village duplex for refusing to work for the family business, she is forced to confront the reality of what it takes to pay the bills.
Dana Gluck, a workaholic lawyer, had been married for two years to a man who was perfect on paper but increasingly critical in reality. She hoped that her dreams of motherhood would be fulfilled soon, which surely would also fix their marriage problems. Instead, her husband leaves her for an exchange student/model who, to make matters worse, promptly gets pregnant.
When fate conspires to have these three very different women move into the same SoHo apartment building, they soon discover that having their carefully planned lives fall to pieces might be the best thing that could have ever happened to them.
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars
It was May, 2009. Things started to go wrong. Very wrong. Computers crashed. The fax machine broke. Files couldn't be found. Checks were lost in the mail. The copier chewed whole documents and spit them out folded in micro-mini-pleats. Annoying people called frequently. Callers we wanted to talk to couldn't get through. Messages were lost. I was particularly inarticulate. I stuttered. I said all the wrong things at all the wrong times. Nobody listened to me anyway. They were all having the same problems. Suddenly, I understood. I was able to get online long enough obtain confirmation. Mercury was in retrograde. We had no choice but to wait it out.
And then, a sign, a beacon of light in the darkness, an ARC, a book! A book about our shared experience. A book about how everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. A book that confirms it's not all in my head! A book called . . . MERCURY IN RETROGRADE. If only . . . if only I could get to BEA . . . get to BEA and secure a copy! But nnnnoooooo! No BEA for me this year. No advance copy. Of course not. Because . . . Mercury is in retrograde! AARRGGRRHH!
But eventually Mercury turns direct and Atria Publishing offers a galley grab online to those who can't make it to BEA and two months later -- I get my book. Yea!
Paula Froelich has created a fun, fast, friendly confection of a story. I was charmed by the premise and pleased with the outcome. The three main characters are each likable even if somewhat less than memorable. I was able to identify with some aspect of each one's personality and predicament. The secondary characters are comfortably familiar stereotypes -- the gay friend with the flair for fashion, the overbearing bosses, the clueless but meddlesome parents, and the status-obsessed socialite. Froelich doesn't really break any new ground here, but she writes well and the story is smoothly paced. If I was hoping for a little more depth, well, at least the book stays true to its title.
All in all, MERCURY IN RETROGRADE is a pleasant if predictable read -- perfect for the beach, poolside, or backyard lounge chair. I'm hoping there'll be more books from Paula Froelich.
Click here to read (generously lengthy) excerpt.
About the Author:
The deputy editor for the New York Post's Page Six column, Paula lives in New York City. MERCURY IN RETROGRADE is her first novel.
Thank you to Atria Books for my review copy.