1. What are you currently reading? The Secret, Book & Scone Society by Ellery Adams. Miracle Springs, NC, is a small town that sprang up around natural hot springs. Tourists came in search of relaxation and healing. Occasionally someone has a problem that the waters can't cure. At times these folks turn to Nora, the "bibliotherapist" who ran Miracle Books. She recommends books so they can read their way back to health.
It's in this quirky setting a murder is committed. Before a visiting businessman can make it to Miracle Books, his seemingly unsolvable problem is solved permanently when he is pushed under the 3:00 PM train. Some of the women of Miracle Springs are determined to solve the crime, and they form the Secret, Book & Scone Society, meeting in Nora's bookstore.
In Miracle Springs, tourists don't go to McDonald's, they visit The Pink Lady Grill or The Gingerbread House Bakery. It's a special place. I used to vacation in Hot Springs, AR. I was enchanted by how green everything was there -- fortified and enriched by the natural spring water. So in my mind's eye, Hot Springs is the small town where this is set. So far, it's charming, intriguing and better written than many "cozy mysteries."
2. What did you recently finish reading? Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes. 26-year-old Lucy and three of her friends visited a fortune teller and, when her friends' prophecies came true, it appeared Lucy just might get married as predicted. What lucky bloke will get to be Mr. Lucy Sullivan?
Yes, this is chick-lit. If you can't figure out, 30 pages in, who Lucy Sullivan will end up with, you've never read a romance novel or watched a Hallmark channel movie. But this book is about more than falling in love. Lucy Sullivan endures depression and low self esteem. I can't well say she "suffers" because for the first 2/3 of the book, she seems unaware of how she gets in her own way. She undervalues herself so much that she takes little in her life seriously. She doesn't understand that she deserves more than shallow (borderline abusive) friends, a dead-end job and men who take advantage of her sexually and financially.
Which is not to say this is a sad book. Lucy is quick, clever and creative. 640 pages is a lot of time to spend with a character, and Lucy is good company. I cheered for her and understood her. (She reminds me of me, half a lifetime ago.) I was uncomfortable with the character of Meredia. Lucy's coworker is a mere punchline, an excuse for fat jokes. This book was originally published 22 years ago. I'd like to think Marian Keyes would not write Meredia the same way today.
3. What will read next? I don't know, but it won't be The Sun Also Rises. I tried to give this Hemingway a chance and you know what? After about 50 pages I realized I didn't like it. Now that I'm not in lit class, I don't have to finish books I don't like.