I'll start with a quick synopsis of Maria Semple's This One Is Mine: In Los Angeles, Violet, a mid-30s former TV writer, new mother and wife to David (rich, self-absorbed and clueless), falls for Teddy, an all-round bad sort. Meanwhile, Violet's sister-in-law Sally embarks on an ill-conceived quest to marry Jeremy (also rich, self-absorbed and clueless, but for different reasons). Trouble ensues. Everyone is forced to examine what is really important in their lives. End of story.
Semple avoids the worst of the Hollywood-novel clichés. This One Is Mine is a character-driven story, and the shopping and real estate are pretty peripheral, if not completely absent. Characters have backgrounds and depth and are not from central casting. In a departure from what I expected, Semple bravely makes Teddy a truly loathsome character, forcing us to ponder what is really motivating Violet.
Semple's publicist contacted me about this book, then Maria and I emailed about it and I got a free copy. At first I was a bit wary, not being much of a fan of books set in Hollywood. But I enjoyed this. Sometimes it's good to read stuff that is out of your comfort zone. I can't read about World War II all the time.