Allison Silver’s "Lulu in Babylon" is a lovingly observed tale of outrageous misbehavior and romantic intrigue, set in the irresistible realms of old and new Hollywood. Ms. Silver knows her way around a yacht, a Brentwood estate and a studio screening room, and she gets the details just right, in a voice that’s equally rueful, comic and completely swoonworthy.
- Paul Rudnick
For the first time since her parents' divorce 10 years ago, Lulu Flintridge, 15, is spending the entire summer in Hollywood with her father, the Oscar-winning director Milo Flintridge. But she has no idea how over her head she is amid his cutthroat and striving circle of friends and associates – stars, studio heads, hangers-on and even his new wife, the beautiful Italian starlet Francesca Frateli.
Milo, past 50 and eager to draw his estranged daughter into his world, gives her the diary of her late grandfather, the ruthless movie mogul, A.J. Flintridge -- nee Abe Fleishman. But even this can’t prepare her for Ben Robbins, the manipulative ex-studio president frantically setting up a new go picture, whose path fatefully crosses Lulu’s on a yacht off Corsica. Or Jazzy Hirshberg, a studio head’s daughter, age 17 going on 3o. And certainly not for Connor Ericson, the young English actor whose career is skyrocketing that summer.
Lulu is smart and savvy, educated in the mores of her mother's East Coast Establishment family, the Sturgeses of Boston. But Hollywood is another planet. Amid its shimmering glamor, Lulu learns that coming of age in the paradise of Hollywood can be a brutal affair.
Jumbled plot lines bog down Silver's debut novel about a teenager's first experience of life in Hollywood. Lulu Flintridge is 15 and furious that she's spending the summer in Los Angeles with her father, Oscar-winning director Milo Flintridge, whom she barely knows. Milo, son of the late film mogul Abe Flintridge, is keen to bond with his daughter and suggests they read and discuss his father's diaries of 1950s Hollywood. After meeting former studio head Ben Robbins on a yacht, Lulu reluctantly enters the spinning social spheres of Hollywood. Ben and Lulu begin spending more time together; he is desperately trying to get the first project for a new independent production company off the ground, and the two begin to learn just how unpopular he is in the business. Silver successfully captures the insular nature of the film industry by shuffling the same cast of characters including Ben, Lulu, and Milo through a constant string of parties, dinner meetings, screenings, and shared vacations. However, the sheer number of extra characters who all come complete with detailed backstories, even if they're mentioned in only one scene makes it difficult to develop emotional attachments to timid, earnest Lulu and the detestably tenacious Ben. Silver occasionally strikes the wrong tone in the diary chapters, but the central plot, spanning decades of social life and the merry-go-round of names, studios, and events, makes the novel a fine facsimile of the inner workings of Hollywood.