Bubbling with charm and life!
The title of this book caught my attention immeditely, and then I got lucky enough to win it at a giveaway. It wasn’t even under the condition that I write an honest review, but here I am – eager to write one! The perfectly positive book I will definitely want to go back to, or read a sequel to!
From the very first lines about moving to the small town, the author sets the gorgeously whimsical tone of storytelling. I love it to feel as if I can hear the author reading the book out loud to me, as if we were sitting together somewhere and chatting. Suzanne Kelman’s writing has this voice-like quality to it, at least for me. (I suppose it’s a matter of language rhythm; some rhythms suit some people.) It had me giggling from page one. It is so wonderful to read humour which loves life, reminiscent in tone so much of the TV-show The Darling Buds of May. I absolutely envy anyone who can think of such charming chapter titles that they alone are worthy your attention. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by ‘Fairy Bells & Hot Pink Jogging Pants’? (You’re already smiling, right?)
The book sends off an odd group of small-town ladies, bound together by a funny cause they feel strongly about, on a journey which will turn out to be life-altering for those who travelled, but also for those they temporarily left behind. Sounds grim and dramatic? None at all, don’t worry. Not really an on-the-road book, but then again, why not? Life is ‘on the road’. But try thinking of Meryl Streep’s gang of friends in Mamma Mia, and a lady version of Wild Hogs with Travolta and Macy, just to set the mood, although this is no copy-pasting job at all.
The characters are all created so lovingly, even the initially annoying ones, with real affection and respect, and if you don’t learn to love them all, one by one, as the novel progresses, then you are not reading properly. Our petty differences, everyday prejudice and ridiculous daily rituals are displayed without judgment, in such a positive way, that you feel guilty for even doubting a character of anything intentionally negative. You find yourself rooting for Flora and Dan from the first gaze they exchange, you learn to love Doris, and you will shed a tear in the end with and for Gracie. The main character’s marriage is shown with humour, grace and just enough grumpiness to spice things up, and each scene and the tiniest hint of marital routine is so relatable to real life that I chuckled on more than one occasion, relishing retelling them to my husband. Family relations and friendship, even family history, are the intricate parts of our lives and make us who we are, and we grow as we learn to accept the shortcomings (with best intentions) in others, as well as in ourselves.
The places are described masterfully, and with just a few lines, Kelman manages to depict the whole 3D picture for you, scents and weather included. Hmmm, maybe 4D then…
The book is also a bounty of delightful, intelligent lines, such as ‘Doris sat looking like a tube of toothpaste just waiting for someone to remove her cap so she could spray the walls.’ (Btw, Gladys the waitress is just an awesome side character, so imagine the laughs you get with the main ones;). Humour seems so easy to write, and it is definitely not easy to do. Wonderfully done here!
Tolerance comes with experience and heart, and it pours from the chapters. You learn, without being preached to, that you never really know a person until you’ve travelled with them, or yourself till you are taken out of your comfort zone.
This book will make you smile, hug your loved ones, even smile at yourself more often, without once telling you what to do or feel, by simply telling you the events of the ladies of The Rejected Writers’ Book Club. (If you find yourself wanting to become a member in the end, no surprise!) It is the perfect gift for your best friend, your spouse, your mother or sister, even your colleague, even yourself! Read it and smile!