Verity Drummond is a florist by trade and a fantasist by nature. When her husband, Kim, leaves her, she deals with the pain by writing Straight Up, a novel in which a man on a mountaineering expedition (bearing a striking resemblance to her former husband) dies all alone in a hole in the ice, starving, wretched and with his broken bones poking through his skin. Verity goes to LA to meet Jasmine and Patrice who want to adapt Straight Up for the screen and somehow, between the dead man up the mountain and Verity’s inability to admit that she’s just another divorcee like the rest of California, she becomes The Widow and the buzz around the script, now based on a true story (natch), begins to grow.
Enter Phil, an old friend of Kim’s, who Verity meets by chance in California. Phil inadvertently sets off the biggest rolling snowball of lies in Verity’s life. It starts ordinarily enough: Verity must stop Phil from letting slip that her dearly departed husband is very much alive and kicking. She tells Phil not to mention Kim because the others are reeling from their divorces. And she tells the others not to mention Kim to Phil because Phil was supposedly with Kim when he died. So far, so harmless, but soon Phil, Patrice and Jasmine are bound together in an ever-tighter tangle, with Verity holding on for dear life to the ends of all the threads.
STRAIGHT UP is a book about honesty and all the other options: stories, spin, delusions, blinkers, evasions and lies. It’s a hilarious, fast-paced and brilliantly executed comedy that moves from LA to NYC to Bodmin – and while the voice is as sharp as it is dark, there’s a top-note of poignancy – and a hundred laughs along the way.