Mallory Delaney is one of four children of the famous wildlife photographer Orin Delaney, and the equally if not more famous actor Sean Delaney. Her parents being well traveled, career-oriented people, breezed in and out of her life from a young age and thusly left her and her siblings to look after themselves for the majority of the time. However, her life and her family's natural chemistry is forever changed when news of her mother's death by a rampaging rhinocerous tears the family apart.
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Left with three siblings, an inattentive and despondent father, and a Gothic mansion of inane and frankly ghastly proportions, Mallory takes the reins and assumes the mantle of rearing three children while still a child herself. She manages to graduate from high school but picks up yet another charge along the way when her father reproduces with another woman and leaves his infant for his daughter to care for. Finally, when all of her siblings have scraped their way out of high school, Mallory finds herself questioning her own future and aspirations and ultimately decides to become an actress. She collects her college fund from her father and moves to New York City to attend an acting academy.
However, upon her arrival in the grand city, Mallory finds a very different New York than the one that she had anticipated. Only being able to afford the cheapest of rooms in increasingly unsavory areas, Mallory struggles to excel in her classes where she finds herself of low to middling talent compared to her classmates. She is forced to obtain extra employment and, in the long standing tradition of starving actors and actresses in New York City, finds jobs as a waitress where she is able, if nothing else, to supplement her diet with the leftover food on patrons' plates.
As her financial situation declines, Mallory's sister Maude contacts her informing her of her own arrival in New York and her job as a book editor. The sisters move in together to share the burden of expensive city living and Mallory finds herself in the role of drudge once more. One evening, she attends a book release party for one of her sister's authors and there she meets Travis Holmes, a well renowned thriller writer known for his ability to stun the mind, shock the senses, and leave his readers coming back for more. After disgracing herself thoroughly by becoming violently ill at the ritzy shindig, Mallory is bribed into socializing with Travis and Maude as payment for her ill manners. As the constant interaction with Travis begins to wear on Mallory's nerves, she departs to act in a seven week long play up north where she can separate herself from her increasingly apparent feelings for Travis and hopefully keep her heart safe in the process. However, the separation proves to be for naught, because Travis shows up at her place on the night of its final show and proposes to her. The two elope and return to Connecticut to live in Travis' home called Leger de Main.
As the couple gets to know each other in deeper and more alarming ways, Mallory struggles to adjust to becoming wealthy over night. From dog food dinners, to five hundred dollar supermarket shopping sprees, she flounders trying to compensate for her ignorance of all things high class. As the differences between Mallory and Travis grow, Mallory's fear of inadequacy begins to get the better of her making her paranoid and convinced of Travis's having an ulterior motive for marrying her. When she learns that he is currently in the middle of a custody battle for his children with ex-wife Sarah, Mallory is convinced that Travis never truly loved her, but merely married her for her experience in child rearing. As a result, Mallory cheats on Travis with what she believed to be along lost love, only to discover the depth of her own love for her husband in the process. Unfortunately, when Travis learns of her indiscretion mere hours later, he is not so willing to forgive. He demands a divorce and immediately throws Mallory out with four suitcases and her dog into the Connecticut winter.
Mallory spend the next several months scrounging up money and living in her car until finally returning to New York CIty. One day, a gentleman appears in the lobby of her building looking for her. Believing this man to be a process server bringing her divorce papers, Mallory denies knowledge of her own whereabouts and departs, testing her luck on the open road and depending upon the kindness of strangers willing to pick up a stranger and her dog at the side of the road. She is found by Audrey Bains, an eccenctric older woman of incredible wealth who finds Mallory interesting and hires her as a dogsbody. Audrey and Mallory make quite a pair, engaging in witty and often absurd conversations from everything regarding books, to politics. One day, Audrey announces an impending trip to the mountains of Mexico, where she gladly drags Mallory through a country ravaged by poverty and disease. After become violently ill (this time with paratyphoid), Audrey returns to Mexico with Mallory hoping to change the wayward course of her life.
One day, Audrey arrives home with news that Travis Holmes, Mallory's husband has been arrested for the murder of his ex-wife and mother of his children. Mallory, having never divulged that she was the estranged wife of Mr. Holmes, comes clean to Audrey, who promptly pays Travis' bail and assists Mallory in escaping to Martha's Vineyard with her husband in hopes of a romantic reunion. It is there, in a cold, drafty mansion with no electricity that Mallory understands at long last that love is never something easy, that it requires faith, trust, and a willingness to let go.
Best part of story, including ending:
I love a character with whom so many of us can relate, a person who struggles with inadequacy and can barely love herself, much less allow anyone else to love her.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Travis comes to New York after throwing Mallory out of Leger de Main to do a book reading at the public library. Mallory, walked from her apartment all the way to Bryant Park, only to have her desired reunion thwarted by her meddling sister Maude and being forced to flee from the cops and the press alike when she accidentally pushes Travis down the stairs.
Opinion about the main character:
I like the realness of Mallory. It is so easy to understand her mindset and to empathize with her feeling lost in a mansion in the Connecticut woods, despite the affection of her husband. Aren't we all plagued by questions of inadequacy? Don't we all secretly wonder when something great happens to us if it isn't actually a trick of some sort?