Shelf Life: The Publicist Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Shelf Life: The Publicist

Kate Mitchell has a job and man that she loves, but she may be unable to recover when her life is suddenly turned upside down. Kate is a publicist employed at Morris & Dean, a book publishing company in New York City. She has been having an affair with MacDermott Ellis for several months. Mac is a married man and senior editor at Morris & Dean. They often work closely together on various book projects.
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Mac and Kate attend a writers conference in Los Angeles. As Kate walks through the lobby of the hotel where she is staying, Nick approaches her. Nick is a man that Kate briefly dated during the winter holidays in New York City. Nick lives in Los Angeles and owns a chain of healthy food grocery stores in Southern California.

Nick is interested in pursuing a relationship with Kate. She tells him that she is in love with someone else. Nick says that he is happy with being her friend, but hopes that one day she will reciprocate his feelings.

Mac is distraught about Kate spending time with Nick. Mac is drinking alcohol at the hotel bar to drown his sorrows when he is approached by Delia - one of the literary agents attending the conference. She wants to have sex with him and he takes her to his room.

Kate goes to Mac's room to speak with him. She hears Delia's voice when Mac opens the door and assumes he had sex with her. Kate starts crying and leaves.

When Kate returns to work at Morris & Dean, Delia tells her that she didn't have sex with Mac. Kate is relieved and reconciles with him.

Edward moves up the release date for a book written by Michael Singer. Michael's book discusses the principles of the law of attraction. Everyone believes the book is going to be a bestseller and very profitable for the publishing company. Edward won't tell Kate why they are changing the book's release date, but she suspects that something is wrong.

When Michael's book is launched successfully, Kate is happy and meets her best friend Grace at a local bar to celebrate. While they are at the bar, a program on television shows Michael being arrested for selling children into a child sex ring. Kate is outraged and doesn't know what to do.

Mac tells Kate that he knew the FBI was investigating Michael, but he didn't know specific details about the allegations. Edward hoped they could release the book and sell a lot of copies before Michael was arrested. Kate feels betrayed by Mac and fears that her career is ruined. She ends her relationship with him.

Later that night, Kate goes back to work to figure out how to minimize the damage from Michael's criminal case. She enters Edward's office to discuss how they will proceed. Edward is drunk and rips Kate's blouse. He is about to sexually assault her when Mac runs into the office and knocks Edward across the room. Mac calls an ambulance and Kate is taken to the hospital.

Kate refuses to return to work and becomes depressed. Nick suggests that she stay with him in California until she gets back on her feet. Kate thinks being in a new environment would be good for her and goes to California.

While Kate is staying with Nick, she tells him that she wants to publish a book written by his uncle, Allan Lavigne. Allan shared a close friendship with Kate. He was also a writer who had a contract with Morris & Dean. Allan's contract was terminated a few days before he died. In Allan's will, he gave Kate a book that he secretly wrote. Kate doesn't want to publish the book through Morris & Dean. She is worried that Edward will use a legal loophole to retain rights to the book.

Mac quits his job at Morris & Dean. Then, he visits his wife, Carolyn, at their home in Connecticut. Their marriage never recovered from the premature death of their daughter nearly twenty years ago. They live in separate bedrooms and focus on co-parenting their two sons.

Mac tells Carolyn that he is in love with Kate. Carolyn admits that she is in love with someone else as well. She has been having an affair with her tennis instructor and wants to be with him. Mac and Carolyn decide to get a divorce.

Kate receives a package from Mac. It contains a contract that states Morris & Dean doesn't have any claims or rights to Allan's book. Kate is also given a $100,000 severance check. Edward agreed to sign off on the rights to the book because he didn't want Mac to publicly disclose that he tried to rape Kate in his office.

Kate uses the money to start her own publishing company called Lavigne House and releases Allan's book. It becomes a bestseller. Ben Affleck's production company buys the rights to make the book into a movie.

Kate tries to get over her feelings for Mac and starts dating Nick. Kate's friends tell her that she should let Nick go if she is still in love with Mac. Kate remains with Nick and they get engaged.

While Kate is at a party celebrating the premiere of Ben Affleck's latest movie, Mac approaches her. He tells her that he is divorced and wants to be with her. Kate realizes how much she still loves Mac and ends the engagement with Nick. She moves out of Nick's house and returns to New York City.

Kate leases an office for her publishing company in New York. She arranges for Mac to stop by the new office. She tells him that she wants to be together and offers him the editor position at the company. Mac accepts her offer and within a few months they are living together. Mac tells Kate that he loves her and plans on proposing to her in the near future.
Best part of story, including ending: The story is full of suspense and drama. Finding out how Kate will deal with the major issues in her professional and personal life is intriguing.

Best scene in story: A great moment in the book occurs when Kate decides to start her own publishing company. She is finally able to work with authors and release the types of books she likes. She creates the kind of life she always wanted for herself.

Opinion about the main character: Kate is a resilient character. She was strong enough to follow her heart even though she risked getting hurt and failing.

The review of this Book prepared by Pamela Parker a Level 3 Eurasian Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of Shelf Life: The Publicist

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   2000+ (Present Day) Making a living subplot    -   Yes Making a living:    -   office romance among coworkers

Main Male Character

Profession/status:    -   business executive Age/status:    -   40's-50's Sex makes him    -   blissful

Main Female Character

Age/status:    -   20's-30's Profession/status:    -   business executive Effect of sexing    -   blissful


United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death How explicit is the sex?    -   actual description of sex Focus of story    -   Her How much dialog    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog

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Christina George Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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