Elizabeth, the First Wife
Los Angeles Times Bestseller

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Elizabeth The First Wife

Romance, Comedy, Shakespeare! Elizabeth Lancaster is leading a perfectly orchestrated life. And she thinks she’s happy.  Why shouldn’t she be? She teaches Shakespeare at a respectable community college where she brings humor, passion and theater to her classes.  She’s got an impressive family that includes a Nobel Laureate father, an opinionated mother, one sister who’s curing cancer, and another go-getter who’s married to a Congressman. And, she’s inherited a stunning Early California hacienda from her grandmother with a garden that brings her joy and a kitchen that has its quirks. Elizabeth daydreams about the day when she can raise the capital to re-do just about everything. And then her life will be complete. Not exiting, but certainly complete.

So why does everyone keep telling her she needs a more prestigious job, upgraded countertops, and, most of all, a better man than her famous ex-husband, movie star FX Fahey? Elizabeth silences her family and surprises herself when she joins her ex to work at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She’s imagining a magical summer in Ashland producing a cutting-edge version of A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, a gig that that will pay for her new kitchen and put to an end any lingering feelings she might have for FX. And she managed to find a pretty handsome house sitter to boot.

But summers can surprise. The production doesn’t go quite as planned, the director’s undermining her at every turn and the handsome house sitter occupies quite a space in her head.  Plus, the book idea that’s been a blank sheet of paper for years suddenly takes off. At the end of the summer, Elizabeth discovers that men can change, politics can be sexy, dogs rule and William Shakespeare has a thing or two to teach her about modern relationships. A fresh, funny, contemporary take on Shakespeare and romance.


Dolan’s sophomore effort (after Helen of Pasadena) is a charmingly funny and effortless read. Elizabeth Lancaster is happy with her life as an English professor at a community college in Pasadena, CA. Though her overachieving family includes a Nobel laureate father, a sister who’s pursuing a cure for cancer, and another sister who is helping her congressman husband move on to bigger and better things, Elizabeth likes where she’s landed. At least she thought she did. Then FX Fahey, a hunky Hollywood movie star and her ex-husband, arrives on her doorstep and throws her for a loop. It took Elizabeth years to get over FX, but his offer of a job helping to stage A Midsummer Night’s Dream may just suck her back in. Joining FX in Ashland, OR, is only the first hurdle. Once on site, Elizabeth discovers that things aren’t going to be as easy as FX predicted. When complications spark a visit from the entire Lancaster clan to town, not to mention the man with whom Elizabeth has been skyping all summer, our heroine is torn between fight and flight. VERDICT This novel owes its success to the wonderfully developed cast of characters, especially Elizabeth, a fully grounded adult who deals gracefully with life (no chick-lit slapstick klutziness here). Fans of Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell will find much to like here. —Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI

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