He’d shown her that there was another way than what she’d always believed love to be. That love could be quiet and mysterious. That a person could be her port in a storm rather than the hurricane itself.”It Happened One Fight
It Happened One Fight is Entertainment Weekly columnist Maureen Lee Lenker’s debut novel. Patti Murin narrates well, giving each character a distinctive voice.
Joan Davis and Dash Howard are gold together on the screen, but they hate each other off screen. Well, Joan hates Dash because she feels like he set her up for a publicity stunt at her expense. Dash pulls pranks just to get a reaction from Joan. One prank though, has made their scripted nuptials into a legal reality.
There’s a lot at stake. Davis and Dash are about to make their last picture together. The script was written by Joan’s assistant and friend Arlene, for Joan. Joan thinks it’s her shot at an Oscar, one of which Dash already has. Finally, Joan is engaged to Monty, an up and coming Hollywood heartthrob with his own secrets, and Dash is about to make her a bigamist.
The script is rewritten so that Joan and Dash can move to Reno for the 6 weeks it takes to establish residency and get a divorce. Reno Rendezvous is born. When too many reporters swarm the hotel where they are staying in Reno, the studio moves them to a dude ranch full of aspiring divorcées and, gasp, they are forced to share a cabin.
Dash Howard is modeled after Clark Gable and Lenker puts in a lot of references to It Happened One Night. You don’t need to have watched the movie (though it’s very good), but if you have, Lenker’s love for the movie comes through.
I really enjoyed this until I got just past 2/3 through the book. There is a gossip columnist, Leda (in the style of Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons), who drives a lot of the action. She’s the one who tells Joan she’s married to Dash, and she’s the one who forces the third act break up. I can’t say that Leda or her actions are unrealistic, but it broke my investment in the story. As a result, the whole last third of the book didn’t work for me. I wish it hadn’t, because I enjoyed so much about the book up until that point.
CW: on page misogyny (countered), child neglect/abuse in past, prevalent sexism, sex shaming on page.
I received this as an advance listener copy from Dreamscape Media and NetGalley. My opinions are my own, freely and honestly given.