Thursday, May 9, 2013

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey - Wendy Wax (Audio)

Somewhere along my reading journey, I've become a Wendy Wax fan.  I think maybe it started when she opened her pocketbook and bought several of her own books and donated them to the Adult Literacy League auction, and continued to support the cause for years in a row.  But then I discovered that in addition to being a generous soul, she writes really enjoyable books!  Opening one of her books is like getting back in touch with an old friend.  Wendy's books come with a few givens...strong women, challenges, friendship and laughter.

But...hmm.  This new book mentions something about Downton Abbey.  And I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I have never watched this show.  I've heard of it, sure, but if you've known me for long, you know I'm not a TV-watcher.  But I knew I would see Wendy at the UCF Book Festival and really wanted to read her latest novel first.  

Synopsis:  The Alexander is a historic apartment building in downtown Atlanta, kept running smoothly by suave, British concierge Edward who excels at proficiency and discretion.  To build a better sense of community, Edward decides to offer weekly screenings of the first two seasons of Downton Abbey in preparation for the launch of the 3rd.  He particularly has his eye on three women, who seem a little lost and need his help.

Samantha Davis married young to old money in an effort to find security for herself and her two younger siblings recently orphaned.  Over twenty years later, she is questioning if gratitude is enough to sustain a marriage.  Claire Walker has recently moved to the Alexander from the suburbs, intending to work full-time on writing her third novel after sending her only daughter off to college.  Except she has a bad case of writer's block.  And Brooke MacKenzie continues to battle her plastic surgeon ex-husband on behalf of their two little girls, while watching he and his new girlfriend (a Barbie clone) make a new life under her (un-enhanced) nose.  These women find kindred spirits in each other, and learn the meaning of true friendship, all while they were watching Downton Abbey.

My thoughts:  I was so pleased with this novel, and highly entertained. This was classic Wendy.  It did not matter in the least that I have never watched Downton Abbey (even though I know it is inevitable that I will one day).  This show is such a phenomenon that I pretty much knew the characters anyway, through friends, Entertainment Weekly, and such.  Really, the story is more about girlfriends having each other's backs, and I think that resounds with just about everyone.

I honestly enjoyed all the characters.  They were authentic and flawed, which is exactly how I like my friends.  I liked how each of the three had initial perceptions of each other that were slowly proven incorrect.  There is always one character that clicks with a reader more than the others, though, and mine was Claire.  I am not a writer and I'm not an empty-nester, but I still felt like I knew her best, plus she made me laugh.  

And I'm not talking about a chuckle.  I'm talking about a big Sandy laugh, from the belly and loud.  These ladies do a little partaking of alcohol a couple of times, and the results are freaking hilarious.  As they often are when friends get together.

If you love the humor and the heart that Wendy brings to her stories, you won't want to miss this one.

A few words about the audio production:  I was pretty excited to see that the narrator was Orlagh Cassidy.  I'd heard her in Emily Giffin's "Where We Belong" and S.J. Watson's "Before I Go To Sleep", and I knew she had a pleasing voice.  What I didn't realize is that she is also pretty adept at accents, and that was displayed beautifully here.  She is turning into a voice I can count on for a pitch-perfect delivery.

Audiobook length:  10 hours and 24 minutes (384 pages)

I'd like to thank Penguin audio for the digital downloadable audio file (which I finally figured out how to get to my iPod!  Woo hoo!).

4 out of 5 stars


bermudaonion said...

Wendy is the best! I'm not a TV watcher either and have never seen the show so I wondered about the book. I'm glad to know I can enjoy the book without having seen the show.

The Relentless Reader said...

I do watch Downton Abbey. And yes, I highly recommend that you do the same ;) But I'm sure everyone tells you that, lol.

This book sounds like a gem and I'll keep my eyes open for it!

Kristie W. said...

Great review!! I love Wendy's books but was concerned about getting this one since I've never watched Downton Abbey before. I think I'll add this book to my wish list now :-)


JoAnn said...

I'm a huge Downton Abbey fan... now I must get to know Wendy Wax, too!

Kathleen said...

Sounds like a good one. I've heard all of the hype about Downton Abbey but have never seen it either!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it nice when good TV and books and friends coincide?! And, yes, you'll eventually get hooked on Downton Abbey, too.

Mmm. I'm reading Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, but it's not the book I hoped, wanted it to be. But I may be prejudiced against her, having read in a recent interview her disdain for "slumber party fiction,'' where characters are your friends.

Julie P. said...

I'm in the middle of this one but I had to stop until I finished another audio book because both books had three women and I was getting confused with their stories. Will be picking it up again in a few days!