The Forgotten Woman by Angela Marsons
I managed to finish this book, but it wasn’t easy. Marsons seemed like the kind of writer I would like and the premise seemed promising—a woman trying to get sober and away from her abusive pimp meets another woman, a lawyer, who is also trying to sober up, and their friendship helps them keep away from alcohol.
Unfortunately, Marsons makes one beginner mistake after another. I thought through the entire book that this must be her first try at novel writing, and indeed in the acknowledgements she says this is her first book.
One of the first things people who are serious about trying to write fiction learn is to SHOW and not TELL. Don’t report how people are feeling, show through their actions and words. Paint scenes with words. Virtually this entire book is a huge information dump of explaining to us how these women became alcoholics in the first place and how they are dealing with life now.
Kit is molested by her stepfather and goes on the run, unfortunately into the clutches of Bando, a pimp who, no surprise here, abuses the women he forces to work for him. Girls who are molested often turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to self-medicate for PTSD.
Fran, on the other hand, had an unloving mother who wouldn’t allow her to engage in painting or anything creative and just focus on her studies so she could become a successful lawyer like both her parents. She manages to become a successful lawyer despite her problem with alcohol, right up until she shows up in court drunk and is whisked away to rehab.
The two meet early in the book and call themselves friends pretty quickly, but you don’t really FEEL like they’re friends, primarily because you are TOLD they are friends and not SHOWN it.
The story meanders and you never know exactly where things are heading, but the main thing is that this should have been critiqued by critique partners, beta readers, and editors who really know novel writing. If Marsons had done this, she could have avoided writing things like, the “toothache in her heart needed anesthetic.” There is no such thing as a toothache of the heart. It would, however, make sense to say she needed anesthetic for the “ache in her heart.” Things like this made the book painful to get through.
Everything We Keep by Kerry Londsdale
This book has a grip-you-by-the-collar opening: Aimee is at her fiancé’s funeral on the same day they were supposed to have been married. At the funeral, a woman who calls herself Lacy tells Aimee she has information about the accident in which James was thought to have been killed at sea two months earlier. She claims James is still alive and slips Aimee a business card that says she’s a Psychic Counselor, Consultant, and Profiler who specializes in murders, missing persons, and unsolved mysteries.
Aimee is in no condition to deal with this quack. She’s also not feeling emotionally stable enough to do anything about the large check James’ brother hands her. Aimee and James grew up together and their ultimate plan was for him to become a full-time painter and her to open her own restaurant after they were married.
Londsdale goes back in time to how Aimee and James became great friends at the age of eight and then went from friendship to love over the years. James’ comes from a family in which he was expected to take over the family business and his art was frivolous and thus discouraged.
What is compelling about the book is wanting to learn the mystery of James. Out of necessity, Lonsdale has to pull some Hamlet-esque waffling and dithering on Aimee’s part to actually act on the psychic’s tip. In the meantime, she does open her restaurant and she meets a photographer named Ian who clearly is falling for her, but he understands that she can’t simply get over the only love she’s ever known—especially when no body was ever found and doubt niggles at the back of her mind about whether James is still alive.
The book really picks up during the second half when another tip from Lacy spurs Aimee to go to Mexico. James supposedly died on one side of the country, but Lacy points her to the opposite side of Mexico. Out of friendship, Ian joins her, and the mystery of James and his strange family is finally revealed.
The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert
Women’s Fiction > Chick Lit > Romance
This is a light, fun book. Lou is a chef trying to do something incredibly challenging—keep a new restaurant flourishing. Her efforts slam into a brick wall after a scathing review by a food critic who goes by the name A. W. Wodyski, a British transplant who despises his new Milwaukee environment but revels in writing blistering reviews about the restaurants he finds in his new (temporary) city.
A.W. is really Al Waters, and the story of how Al and Lou come to fall in love is based on a series of misunderstandings that are believable enough.
I’ve been to Milwaukee several times, but this book does a great job of describing the city in a full way, like a travel guide to a city you’d actually want to visit (although I can assure you, no amount of cheese curds in the world are worth contending with the weather for any length of time).
It begins with Lou discovering that her fiancé is having an affair. However, it’s clear that she should have never been with Devlin in the first place, so the discovery, rather than heartbreaking, is clearly for the best.
If you like sweet romances filled with luscious details about recipes, cooking, and food, you will enjoy The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.
-Theresa AlanRead More