Skip to main content
Font size options
Increase or decrease the font size for this website by clicking on the 'A's.
Contrast options
Choose a color combination to give the most comfortable contrast.

Cover of Romantic Comedy by Curtis SittenfeldRomantic Comedy

by Curtis Sittenfeld

GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Romance

Sally Milz is a sketch writer for The Night Owls, a late-night live comedy show that airs every Saturday. With a couple of heartbreaks under her belt, she’s long abandoned the search for love, settling instead for the occasional hook-up, career success, and a close relationship with her stepfather to round out a satisfying life.

But when Sally’s friend and fellow writer Danny Horst begins dating Annabel, a glamorous actress who guest-hosted the show, he joins the not-so-exclusive group of talented but average-looking and even dorky men at the show—and in society at large—who’ve gotten romantically involved with incredibly beautiful and accomplished women. Sally channels her annoyance into a sketch called the Danny Horst Rule, poking fun at this phenomenon while underscoring how unlikely it is that the reverse would ever happen for a woman.

Enter Noah Brewster, a pop music sensation with a reputation for dating models, who signed on as both host and musical guest for this week’s show. Dazzled by his charms, Sally hits it off with Noah instantly, and as they collaborate on one sketch after another, she begins to wonder if there might actually be sparks flying. But this isn’t a romantic comedy—it’s real life. And in real life, someone like him would never date someone like her...right?

Discussion Guide

Headshot of Curtis Sittenfeld Author Biography

Curtis Sittenfeld is the bestselling author of seven novels: Prep, The Man of My Dreams, American Wife, SisterlandEligible, Rodham, and Romantic Comedy, which was picked for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. Her first story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It, was published in 2018 and also picked for Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club. Her books have been selected by The New York Times, Time, Entertainment Weekly, and People for their “Ten Best Books of the Year” lists, optioned for television and film, and translated into thirty languages. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Esquire, and in the Best American Short Stories anthology, of which she was the 2020 guest editor. Her non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times, Time, Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Slate, and on “This American Life.” A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Curtis has appeared as a guest on NPR’s “Fresh Air,” CBS’s “Early Show,” and PBS’s Newshour; four times been a Jeopardy! answer, and once been a Word Search puzzle. - Author's website

More titles by this author



A budding romance with a famous singer forces a TV writer to grapple with her insecurities. Sally Milz, a 36-year-old writer for the Saturday Night Live--esque show The Night Owls, believes that others see her as "a mild-mannered woman of average intelligence and attractiveness." Shot down years ago after confessing her love to fellow TNO writer Elliot (who went on to marry a gorgeous pop star), Sally now keeps romantic prospects at arm's length. At work, she channels her anger at sexist double standards into uproarious sketches like "The Danny Horst Rule," a reference to a schlubby co-worker who, à la SNL's Pete Davidson, is dating well above his station. (Per that rule, a less-than-stunning woman can't pull off the same feat.) Enter this week's host, Noah Brewster, a gorgeous singer/songwriter whom Sally initially views with skepticism but with whom she has undeniable chemistry--a fact that simultaneously delights and terrifies her and sends her running until two years later, when the pair reconnect during the Covid-19 shutdown. Sittenfeld has a gift for plumbing the neuroses of perceptive outsiders ("a spy or an anthropologist" is how Sally characterizes herself). But while in Sittenfeld's first novel, Prep, Lee Fiora alternated between simmering resentment for her popular classmates and hope that they might embrace her, Sally is both resigned to her fate and more likely to buck it. With an Austen-esque eye for social nuance, the author also deftly teases out the currencies of Sally's world--physical attractiveness, talent, celebrity, youth--and explores how these elements intersect with gender. The book falters somewhat in its quick resolution; given how many pages Sally spends pondering the oddity of her dating Noah, it's disappointing that comparatively little time is devoted to exploring others' reactions to their actual relationship. Overall, though, the work is a pleasure, balancing probing analysis with an absorbing narrative. Romance artfully and entertainingly deconstructed. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

The culture wars and political drama of Sittenfeld's best work are absent in her underwhelming latest (after Rodham), which follows a successful but insecure woman who catches the eye of a rock star. It's 2018, and Sally Milz, 36, is a seasoned staff writer for the sketch comedy show The Night Owls, a thinly disguised SNL. She is busy pulling all-nighters and writing up a storm of skits, one of which is a spoof on gorgeous women actors dating nerdy, wordy guys--and how the opposite would never happen--when Noah Brewster, the host and musical guest for the upcoming episode, asks her to help him with some material. Despite their chemistry, Sally cannot believe that a gorgeous celebrity could fall in love with her. Then Covid comes along before they reconnect, first with a long string of emails during July 2020. In the third act, a month later, they reunite in person. The email thread goes on a bit too long, sapping the narrative of momentum, though Sittenfeld does manage to evoke Sally's vulnerability ("because I'm in danger of confusing the romance of emailing with the romance of romance," she writes to Noah). There's some brilliant character work, but as Cinderella stories go, this doesn't quite stand out. Agent: Claudia Ballard, WME. (Apr.)


When yet another shmopey guy--this time, her office mate at the Saturday Night Live--style show where she works--starts dating an uber-hot and talented female celebrity, comedy writer Sally channels her rage/certainty "that a gorgeous male celebrity would never fall in love with an ordinary, dorky, unkempt woman" into a sketch. The host and musical guest for this week's episode of The Night Owls is the "outrageously handsome" superstar Noah Brewster, who seeks Sally's help punching up his own sketch--she's known around the studio as the queen of comedic structure. Sure that there could be nothing between them, due to the aforementioned law-turned-sketch, intimacy-phobic (and perhaps ordinary, dorky, and unkempt) Sally is her best, brilliant, warm self with Noah during the weeklong lead-up to the show, a fun and frenetic frame for the book's first half that's full of insider-feeling, behind-the-scenes excitement. You can see where this might be going, and yet how much you'll enjoy getting there. Dialogue zips and zings as hearts plummet and soar through Sally and Noah's meeting, misunderstanding, and years-later rapprochement as COVID-19 dawns. Sittenfeld's (Rodham, 2020) meta-romance is an utterly perfect version of itself, a self-aware and pandemic-informed love story that's no less romantic for being either.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Sittenfeld's fiction has flown off shelves since her debut, Prep (2005), and fans will flock to this pure-fun, feminist romp.

Library Journal

Sittenfield, known for creating complicated women (Eligible; Rodham), does the same with Sally, a quirky, whip-smart writer at a fictionalized Saturday Night Live--esque show called The Night Owls. Working closely with celebrities has made her cynical about fake romance in pop culture. When pop star Noah Brewster guest-hosts, Sally writes a few of his sketches, and sparks seem to fly. Fast-forward to 2020, in the depths of the COVID lockdown; Noah and Sally reconnect, and the sparks start a bonfire. The desire in both of them to connect is so strong it bursts off the page. Sittenfield's writing is crisp and current, and her cultural references make this tender story sizzle. Reminiscent of 1999's Notting Hill, in which Hugh Grant as an everyman British bookstore owner falls in love with Julia Roberts's Hollywood actress, the novel also contains Sittenfield's trademark themes of gender politics and social class. VERDICT Buy multiple copies and get ready for the movie that's sure to follow Sittenfeld's latest novel. She consistently proves herself as one of the most readable contemporary novelists. Her books are impossible to put down, and the characters will continue to swim around in readers' minds long after the final chapters.--Beth Liebman Gibbs


Cover of Funny You Should Ask by Elissa SussmanFunny You Should Ask
by Elissa Sussman

Then. Twenty-something writer Chani Horowitz is stuck. While her former MFA classmates are nabbing high-profile book deals, all she does is churn out puff pieces. Then she’s hired to write a profile of movie star Gabe Parker: her number one celebrity crush and the latest James Bond. All Chani wants to do is keep her cool and nail the piece. But what comes next proves to be life changing in ways she never saw coming, as the interview turns into a whirlwind weekend that has the tabloids buzzing—and Chani getting closer to Gabe than she had planned.

Now. Ten years later, after a brutal divorce and a healthy dose of therapy, Chani is back in Los Angeles as a successful writer with the career of her dreams. Except that no matter what new essay collection or online editorial she’s promoting, someone always asks about The Profile. It always comes back to Gabe. So when his PR team requests that they reunite for a second interview, she wants to say no. She wants to pretend that she’s forgotten about the time they spent together. But the truth is that Chani wants to know if those seventy-two hours were as memorable to Gabe as they were to her. And so...she says yes.

Cover of Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel MonaghanNora Goes Off Script
by Annabel Monaghan

Nora's life is about to get a rewrite...

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it's her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage's collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it's picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne'er do well husband Nora's life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He'll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it's the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it's the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Cover of Spoiler Alert by Olivia DadeSpoiler Alert
by Olivia Dade

Marcus Caster-Rupp has a secret. The world may know him as Aeneas, star of the biggest show on television, but fanfiction readers call him something else: Book!AeneasWouldNever. Marcus gets out his frustrations with the show through anonymous stories about the internet’s favorite couple, Aeneas and Lavinia. But if anyone discovered his online persona, he’d be finished in Hollywood.

April Whittier has secrets of her own. A hardcore Lavinia fan, she’s long hidden her fanfic and cosplay hobbies from her “real life”—but not anymore. When she dares to post her latest costume creation on Twitter, her plus-size take goes viral. And when Marcus asks her out to spite her internet critics, truth officially becomes stranger than fanfiction.

On their date, Marcus quickly realizes he wants more from April than a one-time publicity stunt. But when he discovers she’s Unapologetic Lavinia Stan, his closest fandom friend, he has one more huge secret to keep from her.

With love and Marcus’s career on the line, can the two of them stop hiding once and for all, or will a match made in fandom end up prematurely cancelled?