The Love Letter was a beloved and bestselling novel, and She Is Me is a return to that winning form -- a novel about women's friendships, love, and family.
Schine (The Love Letter; The Evolution of Jane) takes a refreshing and often very funny look at love, aging and loyalty in the complicated lives of three women in a tight-knit family. Assistant professor Elizabeth Bernard moves to Los Angeles with her live-in boyfriend, Brett, and their three-year-old son, Harry, after a paper she wrote on Madame Bovary ("The Way Madame Bovary Lives Now: Tragedy, Farce and Clich in the Age of Ikea") catches the eye of a hotshot studio head, who hires her to write the screenplay for an updated version of Flaubert's classic. Also living in L.A. are her grandmother, Lotte, a sharp-talking sometime actress whose aging but still beautiful skin is now marred by a cancerous tumor, and her mother, Greta, a garden designer with a lackluster marriage and a recent diagnosis of colon cancer. Elizabeth quickly finds herself beleaguered by competing demands: her sick mother and grandmother, "now drifting just out of her reach, her grandmother toward death, her mother toward uncertainty"; her sweet, needy son; her husband Brett's insistence that she marry him; her problematic screenplay. Greta, meanwhile, develops a surprising crush on Daisy Peperino, the director with whom Elizabeth is collaborating, and Lotte tries to come to terms with her own imminent death. Schine deftly mixes humor and pathos as she explores these women's various challenges. Elizabeth, especially, grapples with adultery, passion and grief, like Flaubert's heroine, but this sweet novel has none of the French classic's darkness. Instead, it's clever, charming and even uplifting, as Elizabeth learns that love and family are "farcical only from the outside and tragic only when they ended" and that forgiveness is always possible. 6-city author tour.