Cat's Meow
by Melissa de la Cruz, contemporary (2001)
Scribner, $13.00, ISBN 0-7432-0504-9

Norma-Jean "Cat" McAllister is a has-been former child actor and model who dreams of making it big again. Not big as in a career, but big as in being one of the favored ones in the glittering social circle of Manhattan. Abetted by her post-op transsexual best buddy India Morgan Beresford-Givens and her long-suffering maid Bannerjee, she decides to set her sight on the crown of Westonia. That's right, she will marry Prince Stephan of Westonia, even if he doesn't know she's alive, and even if she has to smuggle a baby from China (named Boing) as an accessory to her plan!

Cat's Meow is written in first person, and Cat is, er, just dim. When Bannerjee tells her that she can't go to China because she doesn't have a visa, Cat gives the maid an Amex card. To the surprise of nobody, Chinese baby smugglers don't accept Amex. Or Visa or Mastercard for the matter.

This book follows Cat's adventures as she spirals into bankruptcy, catfights, and other fun stuff only a bubblehead of the first degree can get into. But what saves this story, dumb plots and all, is the author's wicked sense of humor. Catty is the game here, and this story is filled with hilarious name-droppings. I hope the games the desperate, fame- and money-hungry socialites here play aren't based on any real life experiences, but they are all hilarious.

Oh, and Stephen isn't who he seems, to Cat's shock and horror. The story ends in one of the most unpretentious deus ex machina wrap up ever (hey, the author calls that chapter Dues ex mummy-na so she knows), but I'm too busy giggling to care.

Yes, Cat's Meow is another of those socialite-ditz-finds-love thing with a plot that makes the atmosphere of Mars seems suffocating. It celebrates stupidity too, but this one is too bitchy and catty to resist. Meeow!

Rating: 82

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