Author Elisabeth Robinson understands the vicarious thrill that some of us get from reading another’s mail. It’s that thrill that carries through The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, a story told completely through the narrator’s mail, email, postcards and faxes.
Olivia Hunt is a thirty-something, just-fired, slightly suicidal Hollywood movie producer that’s trying to wheel and deal, shoot a new movie, salvage her love life, support her family and dying sister, Madeline, and feebly attempt to find faith in a God she doesn’t believe in.
The writing in the Hunt Sisters is sharp-as-a-hypodermic-needle clever, wryly funny, and oftentimes heartbreaking. Olivia’s letters carry us into hospital rooms, the machines that keep her sister alive, and the self-important, cold medical staff in all their hypocrisy. With tongue-in-cheek, Olivia describes the phases of her father’s alcoholic stages: …he’d passed through the milder levels of intoxication of Verbose, Bellicose, and Morose, before reaching Lachrymose, when like clockwork he’d mention his poor dead mother, and we’d know that the end was near, Comatose was next, Dad would be nodding off very soon.
We’re given hysterical glimpses into the falseness of Hollywood through movie premier parties, congratulatory gifts to corporate presidents (followed by raging emails when the backstabbers don’t come through) and Olivia’s own game-playing, with identical letters to Danny DeVito and Robin Williams, praising them for their unique appeal and vowing no one else could do justice to the role.
The book is a quick read and a pleasure from the first line. True, Olivia’s letters might offer a little more background and dialog than anyone’s letters have ever offered me—but that little push of the envelope is easy to forgive. She has moments of truly poetic prose right alongside her liberal use of expletives. And just like Olivia and Madeline, The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters is an easy book to love, warts and all.