By: Susan Dormady Eisenberg
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: April 4, 2023
Reviewed by Diane Lunsford
Review Date: April 11, 2023
Susan Dormady Eisenberg sets her pen ablaze in her latest novel One More Seat at the Round Table. She takes her audience on a phenomenal journey of what one might imagine happened during the iconic Camelot’s journey from the playwright’s pages to the penultimate Broadway stage.
The story opens in 1960 with the introduction of young Jane Conroy, a spitfire of an ingénue. Even though it’s a time when a woman can have great expectations and aspirations to make her mark in the ‘man’s world’ of theatre, the reality is it’s a lot harder to make it happen. Thanks to Jane’s Uncle Max putting in a good word for her to Brock Remsen, the production director for the play, she lands her sort-of dream job as his assistant. She is tossed into the world of all that glitters and shines, but not so much for Jane as she is the ‘girl Friday’ and is often sent running to deliver messages or grab coffee. Stage left, and Bryce Christmas joins the cast. He is a budding actor in the musical Camelot. It suddenly dawns on Jane that he’s the dreamy guy she saw at the deli counter and gave that flirtatious wink to before racing out of Piccadilly a while back.
Jane dives into her new job and her plate is overwhelmingly full most days. However, sometimes she feels as though her contribution is often unrecognized. She had no idea there was so much to learn from the creative process to rehearsals, set building, costume design, stage preparation and all this before the stage is set for opening night. However, she still had to pinch herself and be reminded she was working on the set of Camelot and was in the company of Julie Andrews as Guenevere and Richard Burton as King Arthur. As opening day approaches, it’s clear that Bryce Christmas is more than a good-looking guy with a great set of pipes. It’s only a matter of time before he becomes much more to her, but not before some of his ‘baggage’ named Rina must be left behind at the proverbial station.
Susan Dormady Eisenberg does a superb job in laying out a captivating account of (the imaginary) development of the musical Camelot. She anchors the plot and, in a seesaw fashion, switches back and forth chapter to chapter between characters Jane Conroy and Bryce Christmas. They are the foundation that moves this intriguing novel forward in wonderful pace and cadence. She paints a credible picture of Jane landing her dream of working in theater and complements her character with Bryce’s budding career and how the union of the two is a collision in epic fashion. It is quite clear Ms. Eisenberg did more than a fair amount of research in developing this story. She name-drops iconic and notable names (Richard Burton and Julie Andrews) and marries them up with fictitious characters (Brock Remsen) and all the while, there is palpable credibility. She is keen on details when it comes to her character descriptions. One that stood out when adding color to Jane was: "...I thought about my family. I was a middle child who’d grown up with two ‘pleaser’ siblings—an older sister, Alice, a housewife and rabid Junior Leaguer, and a younger brother, Brendan, a medical student at Georgetown. Sadly, I had never found common ground with either of them. Yet I’d somehow inherited my uncle’s fierce streak of independence..." Simply put, this is how an accomplished writer shows versus tells! Well done Ms. Eisenberg. I am officially a fan and hope that I won’t have to wait too long before your next great read hits the stands.
Quill says: One More Seat at the Round Table is a superb delivery of the perception of what goes on back-stage and the notion that before all that glitters becomes gold one must embark upon the journey to get there.
For more information on One More Seat at the Round Table: A Novel of Broadway's Camelot, please visit the author's website at: www.susandeisenberg.com/