THE PALISADES – Gail Lynn Hanson – Uncover Secrets: City on Fire

A grippingly confined story of fixation and self-deception.

By Gail Lynn Hanson ‧ RELEASE DATE: N/A

Dorothy Anderson was a sickly child from a religious family who found solace in movie theaters. She moved out to Hollywood in the mid-1940s and married into the prominent Fiske family, who set her up with a house in the Pacific Palisades and provided access to some of Dorothy’s idols, including Judy Garland. Now, in 2006, the widowed, childless Dorothy is 83 and more than a little obsessed with her neighbor—the actress Angela Lansbury. To help her around the house, Dorothy hires Ruth, a caregiver recommended by her sister-in-law, Esther Fiske. However, neither of them know much about the 60-something Ruth, who isn’t actually licensed as a caregiver. Ruth was raised in foster care, knows how to manipulate people, and often thinks things like, “Humans are just meat.” She also happens to already know all the details of Dorothy’s history. The two women quickly become enmeshed in each other’s lives, each attempting to discover the other’s secrets while keeping their own. But how long will it take until an unhealthy obsession becomes a truly dangerous one? The author excels at acclimating the reader to the logic of her characters, which is effectively deployed for moments of both repulsion and humor. An example of this is when Dorothy and Ruth run into Angela Lansbury in the grocery store: “Angela’s cart contained a neat pile of fresh vegetables. Crusty bread peeked out like an advertisement for healthy eating. Dorothy moved around to the front of her own cart, trying to hide the two family-size boxes of corn dogs. Dorothy pushed the cart toward Ruth. ‘My assistant takes care of my cart.’ ” Hanson’s debut novel showcases how celebrity fandom can become its own sort of grotesquerie for all involved; the twists are many and fun, but there’s a real darkness here that sticks with the reader after the book is finished.

Pub Date: N/A

Page Count: 390
Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2023