I listened to the book on CD, and sent this review to Library Journal.
Aging Hollywood director Max has a houseful of guests in late March, 2003, just after the second Iraq invasion. There’s Elena (his significant other, and mother of Simon), Zoe (glamorous singer, actress, and Max’s ex), Isabel (Zoe’s daughter—naïve, smart, and full of resentment for her mother), Paul (Zoe’s partner and life coach—ascetic, and something of a charlatan), Stony (Max’s agent, who’s been secretly carrying on with Isabel since she was 16), Simon (hiding from college, playing a penis in a student musical), Charlie (lone Republican), Delphine (Zoe’s Jamaican mother), and Cassie (Delphine’s friend).
Except for several sexual encounters, not a great deal actually happens, other than the conversations the characters have about movies, current events, and each other.
Russian investors want Max to make an epic version of Taras Bulba. Max wants to make a small, intimate movie, My Lovemaking With Elena. Jane Smiley clearly chooses the latter approach here, a slice of life emphasizing characterization. Reader Suzanne Toren gets a chance to shine, with a variety of voices and accents. Not as explicitly satirical as her academic comedy Moo, Smiley’s novel holds the listener’s interest, and most libraries will want it.