Sunday , March 3 2024
A book about the book you’re reading.

Book Review: The Accidental Bestseller by Wendy Wax

Here’s a funny novel that fellow writers will especially love. The Accidental Bestseller is an inside look at the publishing industry from a group of struggling mid-list authors. A book about writers working to meet a deadline. Or, is it a book about the book you’re reading?

The rungs of the publishing ladder are a slippery slope, but the warmth and loyalty these women share is so captivating, you root for their success all along.

The author, Wendy Wax, has written ten books. One of her novels, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine. Her writing is so natural, I think you will wonder if it is as much autobiography as fiction.

Among the four females in The Accidental Bestseller, we see the struggles of being a writer without a husband’s support or the troubles of an author who’s a singe mom, living with her children and her mother in a double-wide trailer. And a happily married author who finds out she isn’t after all.

The boiling anger of a mid-list author is accurately portrayed, when one waits for a publishing contract, then worries her sales won’t keep her on the publisher’s A-list. And that she may have to return the advance money. We know the pain of every author: Take the deal, hoping you’ll leave them someday for a bigger publisher, when the reality is your numbers aren’t good enough, and you’re about to be dropped.

You’ll pick up the pace of your reading when tension grows. You learn one author has to deliver a book or return the $30,000 advance, her three friends pitch in to get the book done.

“The thing is, Mallory, even in a tiny bookstore like this, there are thousands of titles vying for a reader’s attention. And I have to ask myself, what are the chances that someone wandering in off the street is going to choose one of mine?”

But that’s when the plot changes from a cute story about writers, to the revelations and realities of modern life. Wax does a terrific job creating true characters, believable stories, and fast-moving dialog.

Our cast of characters:
1. Kendall is the one we root for, when her publisher gives up on her and she just can’t write the book that’s due under contract,
2. Mallory who always writes 20 pages a day to stay on top,
3. Faye surprised by her success with inspirational books, and
4. Tanya in the double-wide trailer who is sometimes the gutsy, brave and smartest of the four novelists.

Their loyalty and talent leave you assured they’ll pull off at least a modest success. But the book holds plenty of surprises along the way. And Wax’s dialog is so natural, it feels like a movie. Their covert collaboration takes the book in a whole new direction, and then another.

Fiction readers will appreciate Wax’s ability to synthesize the mundane lives of people, yet make each person’s story so compelling and different.

Few writers, even those who love their critique group, probably enjoy the loyalty and support these four women share. This is a great summer read.

About Helen Gallagher

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