cover image Catching Alice

Catching Alice

Clare Naylor, Clare Alice. Ballantine Books, $13.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-449-00557-6

If not as devastatingly funny as her debut novel, Love: A User's Guide, Naylor still dispatches her Britwit well in this Alice in Wonderland tale with a twist. Poor beleaguered Londoner Alice Lewis, 26, has lost her flat, her cheating boyfriend and her job all in the space of a fortnight. So when Tash, an American friend from her schoolgirl days, visits London and hears Alice's plight, she offers the frumpy ingenue a chance to regroup in Los Angeles. Under Tash's wing, and in spite of her self-doubt, Alice needs only one wheatgrass shake, some positive thinking, a crash course in California lingo and a few extra-firm handshakes to succeed the all-American way: she loses weight and is a smash as a publicist to the stars. She's even got her own stalker, much to the chagrin of jealous starlets who wish they had one. Touched by the presents he leaves for her, Alice secretly thinks her stalker is more mystery admirer than menace, and wonders if they will ever meet. The anonymous--to Alice, but not the reader--suitor is an exuberantly romantic, Irish theatrical director named Patrick Wilde, who has followed Alice across the pond because he's fallen in love from afar with her unassuming nature. Two subplots are hardly worth the reader's attention--one involving Tash and a married man, the other Alice's cousin Simon and diamond smugglers. But main character Alice is perky and engaging, and her loopy humor is the perfect foil for ""the artifice capital of the world."" (Oct.)