48 pages 1 hour read

Annabel Monaghan

Nora Goes Off Script

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2022

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Summary and Study Guide


Nora Goes Off Script is Annabel Monaghan’s first novel for adults. First published in 2022, it is a story of love, heartbreak, and resilience. When the protagonist, Nora Hamilton, falls in love with the movie star playing her ex-husband in a movie she wrote, she feels like she has entered a world of pure fantasy. Their love story plays out just like one of the romance movies she usually writes, until he leaves to film his next movie. However, through her heartbreak, Nora rediscovers her independence and emerges stronger than ever. A number of sources named the novel one of the Best Beach Reads of 2022, including The Washington Post, USA Today, and Book Riot.

This guide references the 2022 G. P. Putnam Sons paperback edition of the novel.

Plot Summary

The novel is narrated from the protagonist Nora’s first-person point of view. Though Nora, 39, usually writes Hallmark Channel–style movies for the fictional Romance Channel, she has written a serious drama, The Tea House, based on her marriage to her ex-husband, Ben. A Hollywood crew comes to her home in Laurel Ridge, New York, to film the final breakup scene, which takes place in the stone teahouse located on her property.

The Tea House stars two of Hollywood’s biggest actors, including the former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, 40. Leo makes a bad first impression on Nora; he is rude, and does not say hello when he sees her. Nora goes to pick her kids up from school, and when they return, she is surprised to find Leo in her kitchen, drinking her beer and solving the crossword puzzle she was saving.

When the shoot wraps, Leo asks Nora if he can stay in her tea house for a week longer. He tells her he needs a break from the city and offers to pay her $7,000 for the stay. Hesitantly, Nora agrees. Her daughter, Bernadette, 8, is delighted to have a movie star staying at their house, but Nora’s son, Arthur, 10, is more unsure.

As the week passes, Leo and Nora become closer, and they develop a sexual relationship. Leo becomes like part of the family; he volunteers to direct Arthur’s school play, Oliver Twist, goes grocery shopping with Nora, and helps around the house. He has never lived this kind of normal life before and finds it fulfilling. Nora cannot believe their romance-plot love story could be real, but Leo confesses that Nora is the first woman he has been in love with, and she starts to imagine their future together. Just then, Leo is cast in a new film, Mega Man. He leaves for LA but promises to return for Oliver Twist’s opening night.

Leo has to stay in LA longer than anticipated and misses the opening night of Oliver Twist. Then, he stops returning Nora’s text messages. A few days later, she receives a package with $21,000 to cover the cost of Leo’s stay. Nora is devastated and believes this proves their relationship was a fantasy. She goes to New York to return the money to Leo’s assistant, who tells Nora that Leo is in a relationship with his beautiful co-star, Naomi Sanchez.

Heartbroken, Nora writes a new script, Sunrise, which tells the story of her and Leo’s romance. She tries to write it as a silly movie for The Romance Channel, but her agent tells her to write a real drama; The Tea House was successful, and now Nora is considered a serious screenwriter.

In January, The Tea House is nominated for four Oscars, with Nora being nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Leo is nominated for Best Actor, and the two briefly text each other again. Leo tells Nora he sent her money so it would seem like he was renting the tea house. Nora doesn’t understand his explanation but is so caught up in the excitement of the Oscars that she doesn’t ask any more questions.

Nora wins the Oscar, and the night passes like a happy dream. She speaks with Leo for the first time since he left, and he tells her that their affair mattered to him. Nora takes this as a long-overdue break-up speech, which she decides is better than nothing.

One day, Arthur goes missing from school. Nora tracks him to New York City and calls Leo, who promises to look for Arthur. When Nora arrives at Leo’s apartment, Arthur confesses that on the opening night of Oliver Twist, he texted Leo to tell him that Ben had returned and was back together with Nora. Leo stopped communicating because he didn’t want to intrude on Nora’s life with Ben.

The following day, however, Nora finds Leo on her porch. He is leaving the country for a film shoot, but before he goes, he and Nora confess their love for each other. Leo gives Nora a ring, telling her they are married, so she knows he’s returning. When Leo comes back, the two are officially married in front of Nora’s tea house, and they start their life together.

blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text
blurred text