Margo Candela’s Good-Bye to All That is the story of Raquel Azorian, a devoted executive assistant looking forward to the promotion she’s certain is right around the corner. But of course it wouldn’t be much of a story if things were that easy.
Raquel works at Belmore, a Hollywood movie-and-media behemoth. She’s so devoted to her job that she is willing to dress badly in order to look the part that she’s hoping to someday play. Raquel has sidelined her love life so that she can spend long hours at her desk. And she dodges family gatherings, too — though that has more to do with her family than her loyalty to Belmore.
But Raquel’s carefully built house of cards comes down around her when the man she works for — the one she has been counting on for that promotion — makes an egregious professional misstep and leaves Raquel in the lurch.
Good-Bye to All That is a zippy read; the plot moves quickly, though the title seems to suggest a foregone conclusion. Raquel scrambles to keep her professional footing while simultaneously dealing with a semi-relationship, her parents’ marital problems, and a difficult sister-in-law. Candela makes it easy to root for Raquel; the character’s ambition is easy to relate to, and though there are times one wishes Raquel would fight back, it’s just as well that she’s not another bitchy chick-lit heroine. Raquel is innovative, a problem solver, at least where her work in concerned. She’s a bit more helpless when dealing with her family, the dynamics of which are not as cleanly written. Raquel’s relationship with her mother is detailed, but her interactions with her father and brother are cloudy by comparison, and the subplot suffers a bit for it.
What Candela really manages here is to avoid a pat ending while still giving the book a satisfying aftertaste — a Hollywood ending that is just believable enough to evade the “oh please!” that might have otherwise escaped the readers’ mouths as they closed the cover.