An addictively readable debut romantic comedy, drama, and mystery rolled into one, about two very different strangers whose lives become intertwined when they receive an unusual proposition. This is a funny, tender, and enchanting story about love, attraction, and friendship: Jane Austen in Los Angeles.Read more...
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An addictively readable debut romantic comedy, drama, and mystery rolled into one, about two very different strangers whose lives become intertwined when they receive an unusual proposition. This is a funny, tender, and enchanting story about love, attraction, and friendship: Jane Austen in Los Angeles.
A struggling Hollywood producer, Richard Baumbach is twenty-nine, hung-over, and broke. Ridiculously handsome with an innate charm and an air of invincibility, he still believes good things will come his way. For now he contents himself with days at the Coffee Bean and nights with his best friend Mike (that s a woman, by the way).
At thirty-three, Elizabeth Santiago is on track to make partner at her law firm. Known as La Maquina The Machine to her colleagues, she s grown used to avoiding anything that might derail her quiet, orderly life. And yet recently she befriended a homeless man in her Venice neighborhood, surprised to find how much she enjoys their early-morning chats.
Richard and Elizabeth s paths collide when they receive a proposal from a mysterious, anonymous benefactor. They ll split a million dollars if they agree to spend at least two hours together just talking every week for a year. Astonished and more than a little suspicious, they each nevertheless say yes. Richard needs the money and likes the adventure of it. Elizabeth embraces the challenge of shaking up her life a little more. Both agree the idea is ridiculous, but why not?
What ensues is a delightful journey full of twists, revelations, hamburgers, classic literature, poppy music, and above all love, in its multitude of forms. The Decent Proposal is a heartfelt and often hilarious look at the ties that bind not just a guy and a girl but an entire, diverse cast of characters situated within a modern-day Los Angeles brought to full and irrepressible life."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-14
- Reviewer: Staff
In Donovan's hesitant first novel, an anonymous donor offers two young strangers $500,000 dollars each if they agree to meet once a week for two hours over the course of a year. Richard is a wannabe movie producer and Elizabeth is an associate on the partner track of a tony L.A. law firm. The author emphasizes their contrasts: Richard is a cool, lean film fanatic who binge drinks and Elizabeth is a smart, no-nonsense, full-figured teetotaler who would rather read a book than socialize. Donovan provides backstory of Richard's "best bud" Michaela, who secretly pines for him; Orpheus Washington, a homeless man whom Elizabeth has taken under her wing; and the eccentric anonymous benefactor. The contrived secret connection between Richard and Elizabeth, on top of a somewhat preachy side plot, results in a narrative that never fully gets off the ground. (Apr.)
An investment in love
Richard Baumbach is technically a Hollywood producer, but at 29, he has yet to actually produce anything noteworthy. So when he gets a mysterious proposal via a lawyer—spend two hours a week for a year with a woman he’s never heard of and get half a million dollars—Richard jumps at the chance.
Elizabeth Santiago, however, is much less sure. A successful attorney with no social life—her co-workers call her La Máquina, or The Machine, for her billable hours—Elizabeth wonders why anyone would pay her to spend time with the handsome, aimless Richard. But she reluctantly agrees.
The first few meetings are awkwardness incarnate. Richard’s exuberance and Elizabeth’s bookish reserve are like oil and water. To make the time pass, they agree to discuss books (her choice) and movies (his) each week. As they get to know each other, the forced dates become something they both look forward to, but they each have reasons to be hesitant about admitting any attraction. Instead, they team up to discover who has set them up, with a million dollars on the line.
In addition to being a smart, funny rom-com, The Decent Proposal is also a love letter to one of America’s strangest and most singular cities. “To love L.A. is to love a mess,” Donovan writes. “A jumble of sand, concrete, sunsets, and strip malls; a snake’s nest of highways on top of which the full emotional spectrum, from rage to carelessness, may be witnessed inside every single hour of the day.”
Donovan’s debut novel shimmers like a Los Angeles sunset. The characters are unforgettable, the dialogue crackles, and the ending is an absolute killer. The Decent Proposal is a story about taking chances and finding love in the most unlikely ways.