Graham, Laurie 1947–
Graham, Laurie 1947–
PERSONAL: Born 1947, in England; married to second husband; children: (first marriage) four.
ADDRESSES: Home—Venice, Italy. Agent—Mic Cheetham Literary Agency, 11 Dover St., London W1S 4LJ, England.
The Man for the Job, Penguin (London, England), 1988.
A Marriage Survival Guide, cartoons by Gray Jolliffe, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1988.
Getting It Right: A Survival Guide to Modern Manners, cartoons by Gray Jolliffe, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1989.
The British Abroad: A Survival Guide, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 1991.
The Ten o'Clock Horses (stories), Black Swan (London, England), 1996.
Perfect Meringues (stories), Black Swan (London, England), 1997.
The Dress Circle (novel), Black Swan (London, England), 1998.
Dog Days, Glen Miller Nights (stories), Black Swan (London, England), 2000.
The Future Homemakers of America (novel), Fourth Estate (London, England), 2001, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Unfortunates (novel), Fourth Estate (London, England), 2002.
The Great Husband Hunt (novel), Warner Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Gone with the Windsors (novel), Fourth Estate (London, England), 2005, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2006.
Mr. Starlight (novel), HarperCollins (London, England), 2005.
Also author of radio plays for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC); contributing editor to Cosmopolitan UK; former columnist for the Daily Telegram.
ADAPTATIONS: Works that have been adapted for audio include Gone with the Windsors (unabridged; fourteen CDs), Audio Books, 2005.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A screenplay adaptation of The Dress Circle.
SIDELIGHTS: Laurie Graham was born in post-World War II England, and noted on the Warner Books Web site that she "was five years old before I tasted candy, nearer ten years old before I rode in a car." Graham attended college, married, and had four children in four years. She had never before pursued a career, and so when her marriage deteriorated she decided to try her hand at writing out of "sheer desperation." Five years passed before her articles were published, the first in the British edition of Cosmopolitan. This success eventually led to stories and books. With her children now gone, Graham has settled in Venice, Italy, where she lives with her second husband and continues to work as a writer.
Among Graham's novels is The Future Homemakers of America, the story of five American women who become friends after meeting on the U.S. Air Force base where their husbands are stationed in England. The narrator is Texan Peggy Dewey, and the others are Audrey, Gayle, Lois, and Betty. A sixth woman, British Kath, joins the group after they meet her at the funeral procession of King George. The lives of these friends are followed through four decades, during which time they experience the joy and pain of births, raising children, marriages, infidelities, divorces, and deaths. Booklist reviewer Carol Haggas noted that in Britain, Graham is compared to Helen Fielding and Nick Hornsby, but that American readers will more likely be reminded of Fannie Flagg and Rebecca Wells. Haggas called The Future Homemakers of America a "fast-paced and funny, timely and tender tribute to the mysteries and magic of true friendship."
Claire Zulkey reviewed the novel for PopMatters online, observing that Graham's "storytelling style is linear and straightforward, real-seeming and lacking many of the contrivances used in such stories…. As in real life, some characters go away and don't come back. Some friends lose touch and, believe it or not, do not all reunite for a grand conclusion. Some children are horrible, hopeless messes and there is no teary reconciliation. Some people make bad, bad mistakes and nothing can be done to fix them." Shelley Mosley commented in Library Journal that readers who have enjoyed such novels as Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchey, Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells, and Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale "will relish the humor and pathos, as well as the well-defined characters" in Graham's fiction.
The Great Husband Hunt is a fictional memoir narrated by Poppy Minkel, who inherits her father's fortune after the founder of Minkel's Mighty Fine Mustard dies in the Titanic disaster. Vin Patel reviewed this novel for Bookreporter.com, saying that he found Graham's "writing and storytelling to be a joy. I became so involved with her characters that I did not want the story to end." Poppy recounts her life from her father's death until the late 1970s, when she is an old woman. Her first marriage ends in divorce, and her second is to a man distantly related to the British Royals. When he dies, she goes to Paris, just as the Germans are advancing on the city. When she returns to New York, she opens an avant garde art gallery. As she goes through life, wealthy even during the Great Depression, Poppy exhibits independence in her choices regarding work, sex, child rearing, and her religion, Judaism, which does not play an important role for her. She considers herself "Jewish, to just the right degree." A Publishers Weekly critic noted that "Graham's protagonist is much less conventional than the book's title leads readers to expect; those looking for ordinary historical romance will get more than they bargained for."
Gone with the Windsors is a fictional recounting of the love of King Edward VIII and twice-divorced American Wallis Simpson, for whom he gave up the crown. The story is told through the diary of Maybell Brumby, a fictional friend of Simpson's from their school days in Baltimore. They are reunited in 1932, when the wealthy Brumby and well-connected Wallis pursue their dreams in London society. The diary follows the romance of Wallis and Edward as they cavort on the Mediterranean and in the English countryside, as well as his abdication and exile, and provides a history of 1930s London as war approaches.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of The Future Homemakers of America, p. 1919; September 1, 2003, Carol Haggas, review of The Great Husband Hunt, p. 56.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2002, review of The Future Homemakers of America, p. 1060; July 15, 2003, review of The Great Husband Hunt, p. 926.
Library Journal, September 15, 2002, Shelley Mosley, review of The Future Homemakers of America, p. 90.
Publishers Weekly, September 2, 2002, review of The Future Homemakers of America, p. 52; August 25, 2003, review of The Great Husband Hunt, p. 37.
AllReaders.com, http://www.allreaders.com/ (February 25, 2006), Harriet Klausner, reviews of The Future Homemakers of America and The Great Husband Hunt.
BookReporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (February 25, 2006), Vin Patel, review of The Future Homemakers of America.
GirlPosse.com, http://www.girlposse.com/ (February 25, 2006), reviews of The Future Homemakers of America and The Great Husband Hunt.
Laurie Graham Home Page, http://www.lauriegraham.com (February 25, 2006).
PopMatters, http://www.popmatters.com/ (December 4, 2002), Claire Zulkey, review of The Future Homemakers of America.
Warner Books Web site, http://www.twbookmark.com/ (February 25, 2006), Laurie Graham, brief autobiography.