Wednesday, June 11, 2014

'All for a Story' by Allison Pittman

All for a Story
Monica Brisbane loves being a modern girl in the Roaring Twenties. Her job writing a gossip column allows her access to all the local speakeasies in Washington, D.C., where she can dance the night away--and find fodder for her next article. But when the owner of the "Capitol Chatter" newspaper passes away, Monica wonders what will happen to her job, and the lifestyle she loves.Max Moore may hold the title of editor-in-chief for evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson's paper, "The Bridal Call," but Aimee calls all the shots. So when Max learns that his uncle has passed away, leaving him all his earthly possessions, Max resigns and heads to D.C. Determined to take over the "Capitol Chatter," infuse it with his values, and turn it into a respectable paper, Max is soon bumping up against the equally determined Monica Brisbane.Under Max's direction, Monica embarks on her most challenging assignment yet: infiltrating and reporting on the Anti-Flirt Society. Though reluctant at first, as Monica meets and mingles with the young women of the club, she begins to question the innocence of her flirtatious lifestyle. And when romance begins to blossom between Max and Monica, she must choose where her loyalties lie: with the young women of the society or the alluring pull of the speakeasy and its inhabitants.


Max Moore's uncle died and left him his newspaper, which Max wants to spruce up with stories of virtue and heroism. Miss Monica's Bisbaine's column, Monkey Business, is all about the vice and sneakiness of the underworld, and she feels her position at the paper is threatened by his intentions.

I found it difficult to muster much sympathy for Monica. She had so much attitude, a stirrer and troublemaker all through. She was disrespectful of Max's position as boss and full of backchat. She put a huge emphasis on material luxuries, scorning honest, plainer girls like Anna and Zelda. And most annoying of all, she kept going out with that contemptible Charlie, even when she found out he was cheating on his wife. Apart from the moral implications, I was hoping she'd get tired of the patronising way he called her 'Mousie'.

I liked Max a lot more, but was puzzled that he'd fall head over heels in love with Monica so quickly. He kept mentioning his glimpses of a warmer, more vulnerable side to her, but I kept flipping back, wondering where he got them from. His attraction seemed to be based on her looks, her witty comeback lines and her small stature, none of which reveal much about character.

Even at the end, I'm not convinced theirs would be a match that would last the distance. She admits to herself that she flounders whenever she can't fall back on the flirting and sassy talk she's built as a way of life. She's not the sort of person I can imagine slipping easily into the role of devoted wife and later mother, making unwise, impulsive decisions until the very end. If you're into Jane Austen, it's like having a role reversal, with shallow Isabella Thorpe made heroine of Northanger Abbey, instead of Catherine Morland. 

My favourite bits were Monica's flashes of conscience, which made her squirm. I like the honest principles of Alice Reighley, the president of the anti-flirting society. It's revealed that other girls who live more simple lives envy the lavish and flamboyant lifestyle Monica presents in her column. The story reveals this to be a farce built on lies, glitzy possessions and exaggerations. In reality, Monica's lifestyle is lean and hungry at the best of times. 

This book is written in a cheerful tone, with some cute quotes such as 'His smile at their reaction produced a pair of dimples that might have been a pair of bullets, seeing how they brought the girls to clutch at their hearts.' If the novel had focused on Max's cleaning up of the paper (and we never get to see the public reception to that), and his relationship with his uncle, I might have enjoyed it more than focusing on the romance, which is a weird thing for a romance lover like me to say.

3 stars

   All for a Story available from Amazon

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