Claire Havilland is an aging Broadway actress who considers herself too old to wear a leotard and fishnets, but is not quite ready to be called a “legend.” One of her most successful roles was playing Margo Channing in the Broadway musical adaption of the film All About Eve. When Claire meets a charming young woman named Emily, who seems to know all about Claire’s career, Claire feels threatened. Could Emily be planning to steal Claire’s career, as Eve Harrington did to Margo Channing in All About Eve?
Connie Willis’s new novelette All About Emily (only 96 pages) blends Broadway and science fiction — something I don’t think I’ve ever seen done before — and it works. It was fun to explore Manhattan’s Theater District and to learn about the history of the Rockettes and Radio City Music Hall while thinking about robotics, identity, ambition, and what it means to be human.
The plot of All About Emily moves quickly, never lags, and kept me thoroughly entertained for the couple of hours that it took me to read the book. Willis’s characters, who manage to become surprisingly well-developed in such a small space, are delightful — I was completely engrossed in their story.
All About Emily is the first of Connie Willis’s novelettes that I’ve read, though I own several more of them. I hope to get to them soon, and I’m going to rent All About Eve this weekend.