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The Lion is In by Delia Ephron: My Quick Take on the Book

From the moment I saw the cover of Delia Ephron's The Lion is In - this photo-realistic shot of three women (one in a wedding veil) and a lion in a convertible, driving off into the sunset, I've wanted to read the book. But as regular readers of Chapter1-Take1 know, I'm so focused on the books that have been adapted for film that I barely have time to read beyond my own self-imposed boundaries. I know, I know. That's why when I got lucky and scored the book at the library, I decided boundaries be damned; I had to read it now. Or be shoved to the back of the book's lengthy reserve line at the library!
I'm glad I broke with routine; remember Ann Romney famously shouting "I love you women!" at the Republican convention?  I have to say "I love you women" to the ladies in Ms. Ephron's book!

I'm not including a synopsis because a) when I read reviews myself I tend to skim over these lest it ruin the story for me or b) because I'm too lazy to write it. Pick one. Or both. Anyway here are my thoughts, my quick take on the The Lion is In.

Considering the fact that Delia Ephron has written or co-written her fair share of scripts - You've Got Mail, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Michael, and Bewitched along with the adaptation of her own novel Hanging Up - I've got a hunch this book with its trio of remarkable women will make it to the multi-plex too. Along for the ride will be Marcel, the extraordinary lion, central to the title and the story - the reference to 'the doctor is in' is a nod to the animal's calming, curative and powerful impact on the womens' lives and psyches.

The basic premise is two best friends on the run - initially we're not sure what they're running from - who encounter a fiftyish, mousy woman also needing to escape, and the three of them end up hiding out in a small North Carolinian town, working in a bar called The Lion. Of course hiding out - from the law, from everyone else's expectations, from yourself and even from love - can't last forever.

The inside dust-jacket flap sums up the ladies best:
"Tracee is a runaway bride and kleptomaniac. Lana's an audacious beauty and a recovering alcoholic. Rita is a holy-roller minster's wife, desperate to escape her marriage and discover whether she actually has a mind of her own.

Ms. Ephron has written the novel in a series of mostly-short chapters that read like movie scenes and keep driving the story forward. Visually there are so many images I can't get out of my head; the crisp, clear writing gives the sometimes crazy scenarios heft and credibility.
While Ephron does let us see what's going on inside her characters's heads, she doesn't dwell, knowing in her savvy screenwriter's head to show rather than tell.  We get to know these women, and the men in their lives, through a series of absurd but strangely believable situations; a bar with a lion in it? Where is it?  Because I'd like to go there and watch Marcel the lion while he watches Rita dance to Bombaleo! I'd like to be sitting in that AA meeting where Lana filches the coffee money. And Traci cavorting in that frothy wedding dress.
These are just glimpses of scenes that would create the best kind of cinematic comedy; hilarious yes, but, as Ms. Ephron crafts it,  loaded with wit, warmth and the heart of a lion.