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One-Hit Wonder: A Novel    by Lisa Jewell order for
One-Hit Wonder
by Lisa Jewell
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2003 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The 'one-hit wonder' of the title is Ana's estranged half-sister Bee Bearhorn. The story opens to a letter that Bee has written for Ana (who has not received it), giving the reader insight into the love and longing that the singer has for her younger sister. Then Bee dies suddenly at the age of thirty-six, and we embark with country mouse Ana on an urban adventure in search of a solution to the mystery, not only of Bee's death but of her life.

Ana, tagged 'The Towering Twiglet' by her sister on her rare visits, is six-feet tall, thin, has lank hair and bites her nails. Grieving over the death of her beloved father, she has interrupted her own life to care for a selfish, unpleasant mother, who carelessly and constantly humiliates her (a case of Cinderella with an abusive mother). When news arrives of Bee's death, her mother sends the inexperienced Ana alone to London to pack up her sister's apartment.

What follows is a combination of Georgy Girl and a madcap adventure on the trail of a few clues to the puzzle of Bee Bearhorn. Ana has her first taste of freedom as she cavorts around her sister's dismal apartment wearing a tiara and fuchsia gown, dripping with diamonds, and guzzling champagne to loud music. Soon she meets her sister's elderly neighbor (who still has an eye for young men) and her best friends Lol and Flint.

Lol, Ana's negative image (same height and shape but opposite skin and hair colors), who has 'more energy than a hyperactive, attention-deficit-disordered six-year-old on Red Bull', begins a transformation of her friend's sister that is a joy to behold. Flint is a limo chauffeur, whch comes in handy for transportation. He finds 'something fascinating about the "other girl," the supporting actress, the less obvious choice.'

There are additional eclectic characters, a mysterious country cottage, and a precocious disabled boy with a will of iron, as the mystery unravels along with regular flashbacks to Bee's life. The reader finally does discover why she was only a one-hit wonder, and Ana rewrites Bee's ending as she finds both a new life and romance of her own.

One-Hit Wonder is a delightful, witty read with a long-drawn-out mystery, a tinge of tragedy and a charming romance. It will make you laugh and cry and leave you satisfied.

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