Annie Shaw has a great circle of friends and the job of her dreams --- being an author --- but fame and love still elude her. While her first book was a big hit, the second flopped, and the third is still a work in progress. Annie fears her future as an author depends entirely on its success. With the help of her friends, she embarks on a journey to ensure her name gets “out there,” and her novel finds a comfy spot on the New York Times bestseller list. But is Annie willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen?
In the wake of a failed marriage and less-than-mediocre novel, Annie’s self-esteem is plunging. Complicating her life further is her ex-husband, who keeps asking for money, and her new love interest, who beckons her from Barcelona. In a show of solidarity, Annie’s friends and sister take the reins, united in their goal of getting Annie and her book on “Oprah.” Their good intentions transform into a menagerie of creative, and somewhat unorthodox, plans. The execution of those plans, however, results in Annie relocating from Milwaukee to Chicago, where she becomes the owner of a split personality Jack Russell Terrier that lands her in a lawsuit with a fancy dog salon. The aim-for-fame antics lead to one catastrophe after another, getting Annie’s name “out there” in ways she never wanted or anticipated.
Troubles seem to come at every turn for Annie, who is also trying to cope with a new editor who is voicing “serious concerns” with her latest manuscript. But the more she works with him, the more his concerns and suggestions make sense. When her friends’ crazy schemes actually succeed in getting Oprah’s attention, Annie finds herself on the brink of coming face-to-face with the fame she has desperately sought, and the Barcelona man who melts her heart. It is more than she ever expected, but is it worth the price? Could it be that something else could enrich her life even more? Suddenly, her new editor seems to be the only voice of reason, and the sound of his voice becomes more comforting each day.
BARCELONA CALLING is a light, breezy, contemporary read by Jane Kirkpatrick, who is known for historicals such as THE DAUGHTER’S WALK, AN ABSENCE SO GREAT and numerous others. Though she is an award-winning author, her latest work is simply not a page-turner. The plot is sweet but thin. The protagonist and secondary characters are neither believable nor interesting. Unfortunately, the same can be said for the dialogue. While there are some funny spots, most of the humor leans heavily toward corny. The novel’s message asserting that fame is an empty goal compared to a life rich in love, faith and fulfillment is a good one, but predictable from the start.
As with all books, the likability factor is subjective, and another reader may laugh out loud, savor every word, and feel a tug at their heartstrings. A review is, after all, just an opinion.
Reviewed by Susan Miura on September 13, 2011