"Every story is a love story."--Nora Mars,Evil Love, (1962) Nora Mars--glamour girl, star of stage and screen, B-movie goddess--has slowly aged out of mainstream popularity and quickly slipped into a coma. Known as much for her astonishing looks, her five husbands, and her way with words ("I'm all for love at first sight. It saves a lot of time") as for her movie career, Nora Mars has been a tabloid's dream diva. Marie Brown, the heroine of Jenny McPhee's debut novelThe Center of Things, is everything that Nora is not: too tall, too plain, too unmarried, and always too early. But she also happens to be Nora's number-one fan and knows enough to use the star's untimely near-death to advance her own career at theGotham City Starby insisting on writing her obit. Along the way she meets the charismatic Rex Mars, Nora Mars's husband number-three, and struggles between reportorial integrity and plain old lust. But Marie also has a secret life: She spends every free moment at the library, pursuing her fascination with physics. Here she meets the strange, intriguing Marco Trentadue, a "freelance intellectual" who bears a striking resemblance to Peter Lorre. While Marie is drawn more and more to Rex, she gradually finds Marco to be the stranger attractor. Interweaving vignettes from Marie's past, movie lore and lines, and metaphorical physics, Jenny McPhee limns the randomness of everyday life, the conflicting pulls of libido and intellect, and the choices--conscious or not--that shape the search for true love.