Before I start talking about this lovely book, let me say a few words about She Reads, so you will know what I'm talking about when I mention it going forward. It is an online community of readers, with a monthly book selection, and an opportunity to talk about those books (and books in general). The site is managed by friends and authors Marybeth Whalen (an author I adore) and Ariel Lawhon.
Once a month, I will be sharing my thoughts with you on the She Reads selection of the month. There are a few other bloggers in the blogosphere who will be doing the same thing, and all of the reviews will be linked back to the She Reads website. Feel free to come over and check it out!
Anyway, back to the book. It showed up on my doorstep at a time when my life was OUT. OF. CONTROL. I was irritable, I was trying to get the kids back in school, trying to avoid being selected for a four-week trial, and I couldn't focus on anything but my hand in front of my face. Yet, what a pleasant surprise! Meryl Streep? Who doesn't love Meryl Streep movies? If you don't, I don't want to know. There is a lighthouse on the cover! And popcorn! This was exactly what I needed.
Synopsis: Two sisters, Isabel and June, and their cousin Kat, have been raised by Kat's stoic mother Lolly ever since a devastating family tragedy when the girls were adolescents. They all lived in a seaside inn on the coast of Maine, all struggling to make sense of their lives, feeling confused and angry, and pretty much loathing each other's very presence.
Fifteen years later, Isabel and June have left their hometown and gone their separate ways. Lolly has mysteriously called them all back to the inn for an announcement that will shake them to their core, and also inadvertently force them all to deal with the crisis in their individual lives: Isabel, once a wealthy stay-at-home wife, now struggles with the sacrifices she has made for her husband who she just caught in another woman's bed. June, a single mother, has just lost her job and is still desperately searching for her son's father, who she never saw again after the night of conception. Kat has always dreamed of being a pastry chef in Paris and ultimately opening her own bakery, but she feels she is expected to help her mother run the inn and marry her childhood sweetheart. Then there is Lolly, who has secrets of her own that have haunted her for 15 years.
This group of women gather back where they started, taking a kinder, gentler approach with each other as adults. They learn more than they ever knew about themselves and each other through a long-standing tradition at the inn...Movie Night, with a special focus on Meryl Streep movies. As they laugh and cry their way through everything from "Defending Your Life", to "The Bridges of Madison County", to "Kramer versus Kramer", each woman explores themes of life, love, regret, and the meaning of true happiness.
My thoughts: If you think that this book is a predictable woman's book, you'd be right. It is unapologetically a beach book, or (since the kids are back in school and there be no beaching going on) simply a story to warm your soul. I won't get into any further details of the plot, but ladies, you KNOW within 50 pages that you are going to need tissues. There are handsome, thoughtful, virtuous single men everywhere. There are women with dreams and ideals just waiting to be disappointed. There are LIMITLESS girlfriend opportunities. It's all there, and you can see it coming. You just know it's going to be good!
And it is. And all that goodness is nestled in discussions of a long list of Meryl Streep movies. There are ten specifically watched by this group of women, and each one of the movies has bearing, directly or indirectly, on what they are going through in their lives. Their issues aren't petty, they are pretty major. But they struggle through them, and good things happen to them, which made me happy. Normally when there is a group of women in a book, at least one of them gets on my nerves. But I loved every one of these ladies. They were bright, and loving and worthy of happiness.
So what if you aren't a fan of Ms. Streep? (The horror!) Or haven't seen one of her movies? You will still enjoy the book. You'll probably be inspired to have a Meryl Streep movie marathon yourself. The movie discussions aren't a huge part of the story, but are just catalysts for self-knowledge and demon expunging.
So plan on picking this one up when you need some girlfriend power to wash over you, need a good cry, or are tired of serial murderers. It is good for what ails you.
4 out of 5 stars