Order Up Watch TV(play), produced off-Broadway at the Grove Street Playhouse (New York, NY), 2000.
Thoughts While Having Sex(novel), Kensington (New York, NY), 2003.
Are You in the Mood(novel), Kensington (New York, NY), 2004.
The Art of Undressing(novel), New American Library (New York, NY), 2005.
You Could Do Better, New American Library (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to Salon.com.
Stephanie Lehmann is a playwright and novelist. Her 2000 play,Order Up Watch TV, is about watching television, a onetime favorite pastime of the author, according to her home page. The crux of the play is about how television can dominate life, but Lehmann also weaves in the story of an intense sibling rivalry. Irene Backalenick, writing in Back Stage, commented: "The main character, as it happens, is the TV set itself—and not any of the three people embroiled in its toils."
Lehmann told Chick Lit Books interviewer Rian that, like her play, she wrote Thoughts While Having Sex because of her obsession about her relationship with her sister. In this first novel, the author tells the story of a young playwright who gets a chance to have her play produced off-Broadway. The play is about the playwright's relationship with her dead sister, a movie actress who has committed suicide. Although the play is a success, the playwright is still actively, though unsuccessfully, looking for love. Lehmann incorporated her own play into the book, thinking this would shorten the writing of the novel, but it took three years, and when she finished, very little of the original was left.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor described the protagonist as a "young playwright [who] confronts the Big Questions: sex, mortality, etc."
Camille, the protagonist of Are You in the Mood, idolized her dead father to the extent that she has difficulty being intimate with any man. When her stage career goes nowhere, she settles for stability through marriage to Daniel and motherhood. Postpartum depression sets in, Camille becomes bored with her life, and she flirts with an attractive director, but this is a behavior that could lead to disappointment.
The Art of Undressing is the story of Ginger, the twenty-five-year-old daughter of Coco, a former exotic dancer. The daughter is intimidated by her mother, with whom she feels she must compete. The inhibited Ginger, who wants to be a pastry chef, begins cooking school with the help of a scholarship and aid from her father. All is not pleasant, however, as the instructor verbally abuses her and she falls for Tom, who is already involved with another student. Coco is a sexual and gregarious woman who embarrasses her daughter, but who steps forward with advice and money for new clothes when Ginger wants to impress Tom but has no idea how to go about doing it.
Ginger holds classes to show women how to strip, seduce their men, and feel good about their bodies. Ginger helps out by selling sex toys. When her father's second wife dies, Ginger helps him sort out her things, giving her an opportunity to know her young stepsister, all against the advice of her mother.
Ginger's dilemma is ultimately whether she should be true to herself or try to be more like her mother. Melissa Parcel reviewed The Art of Undressing for Curled Up with a Good Book online, writing: "The fact that Ginger and Coco's roles in life are the opposite of the typical mother-daughter stereotype makes for an intriguing story."
Daphne Wells is the woman obsessed with television in You Could Do Better, and who has the most appropriate job of being curator of the Museum of Television and Radio. She meets Charlie, an English teacher and television fan, who has yet to sell any of the show pilots he has written. Charlie proposes to Daphne, and they plan to move to the house he buys from his grandmother, but Daphne is not sure she wants to live in the suburbs and commute to her job in New York.
Another sister relationship is important to this story. Daphne and her older sister Billie have become especially close since the death of their parents, and when Daphne becomes friendly with Jonathan Hill, the successful producer of her favorite show,Supermodels, she hopes to introduce him to Billie, a model who is involved with a married man. The problem comes when Jonathan's presence evokes the kind of feelings Daphne should be feeling with Charlie.
In reviewing You Could Do Better in Booklist, Maria Hatton noted that, just when the reader believes the story to be made up exclusively of light and funny moments, "Lehmann switches gears and introduces true poignancy."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Back Stage, September 15, 2000, Irene Backalenick, review of Order Up Watch TV, p. 64.
Booklist, August 1, 2006, Maria Hatton, review of You Could Do Better, p. 55.
Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2002, review of Thoughts While Having Sex, p. 1646.
Publishers Weekly, May 22, 2006, review of You Could Do Better, p. 30.
Tribune Books(Chicago, IL), May 25, 2003, review of Thoughts While Having Sex, p. 6.
Chick Lit Books,http://chicklitbooks.com/ (November 19, 2007), Rian, "Interview with Author Stephanie Lehmann.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (November 19, 2007), Melissa Parcel, review of The Art of Undressing.
Romantic Times Online,http://www.romantictimes.com/ (November 19, 2007), Donna Carter, review of Are You in the Mood; Cindy Harrison, review of The Art of Undressing; Sarah Wethern, review of You Could Do Better.
Stephanie Lehmann Home Page,http://www.stephanielehmann.com (November 19, 2007).