By Iris Rainer Dart
We gave this an A when it was published in 1999. Our reviewer wrote:
When I Fall in Love is a funny, emotionally intense, and meaningful mainstream romance offered by the author of Beaches, Iris Rainer Dart. It's a striking combination of real-life tragedy set in bigger-than-life Hollywood, topped off with an ending worthy of a fairy tale. Lily Benjamin is a fighter. As a child, she turned to television to escape her own lonely, empty life, absorbing it hour after hour, day after day. When her husband deserted her and their infant son, Lily determined to make a good life for Bryan, even if she had to be both mother and father to him. She took her amazing, encyclopedic knowledge of TV sitcom history plus her natural talent, and made it as a top television comedy writer. Now Lily seems to have it all: a challenging career she loves, a wonderful son poised on the brink of manhood, and an engagement to a sweet and successful heart specialist who cherishes mother and son. Then, in a few short days everything goes dreadfully wrong. Lily's housekeeper, Elvira, is a second mother to Bryan. Suddenly, after thirteen years with Lily, Elvira quits without warning, fleeing a violently abusive husband. She refuses to say anything about her plans, thinking they will be safer if they don't know. Lily, and especially fifteen-year-old Bryan, will miss Elvira, the woman who rocked him, read to him, and nursed him through all his childhood illnesses while Lily worked to provide for them all. At the same time, Harry Green, Lily's mentor and dearest friend, succumbs to the cancer he has been valiantly fighting. Harry was the King of Jokes, a top Hollywood talent who gave Lily her first break. Harry, Lily, and the rest of the team have been struggling to turn around dismal ratings and keep their show, Angel's Devils, afloat. Without Harry the prognosis is dim. TV deadlines do not allow for mourning, and still reeling from the shock of losing Elvira and Harry, Lily is next hit with Charlie Roth, Lily's new boss. Harry was the King of Jokes, but Charlie is the God of Jokes, and the rest of the team knows that if anyone can save the show, Charlie can. Charlie, however, is totally merciless, crazy, and a few other things as well, until one more tragedy strikes Lily, and Charlie reveals another, unexpected, side. Here is an inside peek into the less than glamorous interior of television production. It's filled with smoke-filled rooms, abundant obscenities, and people who only know how to deal with life by harpooning everything and everyone with cruel and relentless mockery. The hard-boiled exteriors of the many characters do occasionally crack, permitting glimpses of the people inside, who still feel and care but have such a hard time showing it. There is another world depicted here as well, a complete contrast to the make-believe of Hollywood, and one that's no less difficult to handle. Charlie Roth has learned how to survive in that world, and now strives to teach Lily and Bryan.

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