In this satirical journey through the chic lunch spots and outposts around Los Angeles circa the ‘90s, newly divorced Danielle Wiffard navigates a maze of romantic, sexual, and musical encounters with celebrities and socialites.
Roving around LA – herself a prominent “character” in the book – Danielle cavorts with a range of potential romantic interests, from a symphony maestro to a big-hatted country crooner, from a swaggering TV talk-show host to a has-been teen idol, and beyond.
She seeks a new sense of self and purpose and experiences a series of fleeting ecstasies and personal and natural disasters. Meanwhile, her lunchtime pals and a gaggle of gossips keep an eye on her and an eye on the garçon’s hindquarters as together they refine the Art of Lunch.
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“The perfect book for summer reading.”
–Richard Mineards, Montecito Journal
“It’s 1990-something, and although fabulous Danielle Wiffard’s marriage is about to blow, fortunately for her (and this book’s readers), all of L.A.’s eligible bachelors, not to mention its ineligible but still very willing married men, are eager for a dalliance and maybe more. But not much more, for this is L.A., of course, and the surfaces tend to run surface deep. At least in the way they’re reflected in Josef Woodard’s biting but far from bitter debut novel Ladies Who Lunch: a satirical taste of L.A….
“I risk making the book sound more serious than it is. It’s keen without worrying to make too many proclamations… Woodard helps us laugh, even as we reconsider ideas of beauty and gender and desire and fashion. And is there a bigger American cheese than Hollywood at this point?”
–George Yatchison, California Review of Books
“Across 267 quick-turning, punchy pages, we walk in the high heels of recent divorcee Danielle Wiffard as she explores the celebrity and high-net-worth dating scene in Los Angeles during the glitzy and gilded 1990s, reflecting on progress and problems regularly with a snarky, boozy coterie of couture-wearing cacklers. The book’s sardonic, tongue-in-cheek tone makes for plenty of darkly comedic turns, but Woodard frequently drops deeper nuggets of cultural analysis about L.A. and California at large.”
–Matt Kettmann, Santa Barbara Independent
“Mr. Woodard calls the book a ‘satirical romance,’ and he said readers will notice the plot advances through Danielle’s various affairs and encounters with L.A. socialites.
‘That’s her process of going through this sort of self-discovery after getting divorced and feeling this new freedom where she can go out with a famous country-western star or someone is suspiciously similar to David Cassidy,’ Mr. Woodard said. ‘I think it’s a feminist book because she’s very much restless and in control of what she allows to happen and who she wants to pursue and who she wants to keep away.’
He added, ‘It’s basically like a long self-discovery trek with a lot of strange adventures along the way and romantic little episodes that come and go.’
–Madison Herneisen, Santa Barbara News-Press
California Review of Books, review by George Yatchison, link
Santa Barbara Independent, feature by Matt Kettman, link
Santa Barbara News-Press, story by Madison Herneisen, link
Montecito Journal (Richard Mineards’ column), link
Chaucer’s discussion and reading, via zoom, with Mike Takeuchi and moderator DJ Palladino, link
George Yatchison’s review in California Review of Books link