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Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley
Ten Days in the Hills is set in Hollywood in March 2003, just after the Academy Awards and the invasion of Iraq. 58-year-old film director, Max, and his girlfriend, Elena, retreat to his mansion in Pacific Palisades to escape from the war news for a while. They are soon joined by eight other guests: Max's ex-wife and her lover; Max's daughter, agent, and best friend; Elena's son; and Max's ex-wife's mother and her friend. These ten people spend the next ten days talking about the war, life, and movies, flirting and falling into bed with each other, and revealing secrets. Jane Smiley's novel is based on the same structure of Giovanni Boccaccio's 14th-century The Decameron and has received mostly positive reviews. The Cleveland Plain Dealer says, "Ten Days in the Hills is challenging and exhilarating and, in the main, forgiving of the human condition. I can think of no better book to read in the days before the Academy Awards - unless your politics skew right."