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finder. A cigarette in the left hand when it should be in the right, a prematurely melted ice cube in a half-empty glass of...
Meredith is a continuity girl. Her job is to make sure that the details in every scene on a film shoot are consistent. She is the error catcher. The needle- n-the-haystack
Copyright © 2009 Leah McLaren.
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The Continuity Girl ~ By Leah McLaren
Reviewed by Randall King
JUST in time for Valentine's Day comes a debut novel from a hip Canadian writer with love -- or at least reproduction -- on her mind.On the morning of her 35th birthday, Meredith Moore wakes up and smells the coffee regarding her diminishing number of eggs.Meredith confirms -- via an inevitably handsome fertility specialist named Joe Veil -- that she has limited time left to become pregnant.Meredith's job title -- Continuity Girl -- refers to the film set job of compiling the scene-by-scene details of a movie shoot. She keeps track of how much wine is in the glass and which way the star's hair is falling so that shots will match up in the editing suite.The instability of that career and the absence of a male consort don't deter Meredith from maternity. After all, she is herself the daughter of a riotously unconventional single mother.The biological clock is winding down, and if she can't hook up with a life mate, she resolves to become a "sperm bandit." She decides to get pregnant with a willing male with sound genes and no inclination to assert -- or even admit to -- paternity.That quest takes her to London, where a mysterious producer has hired her for a gig on the set of an English costume drama-murder mystery.It is a good place to reunite with her poet-mother Irma and it is a good place to re-establish her career. It is even a good place to learn more about the history of her own conception.But it is not a good place to get down to the nitty-gritty of casual unprotected sex. Meredith's connections with an alcoholic English falconer and a handsome German artist prove -- ahem -- fruitless.Will Meredith ever confront her destiny as a mother?One thing is certain. With the publication of The Continuity Girl, Toronto author Leah McLaren's true destiny seems to be clicking into place.McLaren is the often-infuriating columnist in the Style section of the Globe and Mail. She gets the goats of many a reader not because of her writing, which is actually quite sharp. What is frustrating about her writing is that it tends to be in the service of a shallow world view.Mostly writing about sex/dating/partying among the hip/beautiful/Toronto-based, she is like the popular girl in high school who, a decade after graduation, never got tired of asserting her exalted place in the universe.Still, that writing is irritatingly good and it doesn't hurt that it comes from the unassailable vantage of a smart, confident, attractive young woman.It may be that McLaren's columns were always just a warm-up for her foray into chick-lit fiction, a literary genre that gets by just fine without sticky journalistic requirements, such as balance and the contemplation of someone else's point of view.Another advantage to the novel format is the sheer size of the project -- 336 pages -- which offers a satisfying illusion of depth, as she takes on the issue of a woman questing for maternal fulfilment without any apparent notion of child-rearing reality.Not that readers need to be concerned. Meredith is destined for happiness because she happens to be the star of a chick-lit novel. And despite its hip standing as a literary genre, chick-lit is often as formulaic as its literary predecessor, the Harlequin romance, with audience-pleasing forays into sex, romance and career, transmitted with the understanding that all the heroine's desires will be gratified.The novel is not bad. There is wit and style and McLaren even manages to transmit some important exposition via the consciousness of a man attempting to donate his seed at a sperm bank, which is a pretty good trick.But nothing in the book is surprising.It's precisely the kind of writing -- glib, hip, inconsequential -- for which McLaren has been preparing her whole career thus far.Randall King is a Free Press entertainment reporter.