Friends like these: The Book Club

Today’s review is from TBYL Reviewer, Stephanie Hunt and by the seems of it, her latest read had her wanting more…

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When I began reading Mary Alice Monroe’s The Book Club (Harlequin) I was expecting a story of sisterhood, of camaraderie and shared interests. That’s not exactly what I found…

the book club”On the surface it’s a monthly book club. But for five women, it is so much more. For Eve whose husband’s sudden death cheats her of every security she has planned on, the club is a place of sanctuary. For Annie, a brilliant attorney intent on starting a family late in life, it is the chance to finally let down her guard and dream of other possibilities. For Doris, it is her support group as she acknowledges her dying marriage and finds the ultimate freedom in her husband’s betrayal. For Gabriella, the ‘perfect’ wife, mother and friend who offers support to everyone but is afraid to ask for it herself, it is a sense of community. And for Midge, an artist who has always lived her life against the grain, it is a haven of acceptance.”

It’s the story of five women, all going through good and bad times, their stories intertwining. It sounded great, and I was very excited to read this book as I wanted to find out about these characters. Having previously read books that worked with the stories of multiple characters, I was looking forward to a good read from a New York Times bestseller.

The book introduces the characters well and I was hooked straight away, I wanted to find out more. At the beginning of the story, Eve’s husband unexpectedly passes away and when she fall in a heap her friends try to pull her through. As a reader, I felt as though I was able to sit on the sofa with her as she struggled to pull her self out of her all-encompassing grief. The book club members rally to bring her round and as she continues on with life, a chance presents itself, to explore the circumstances surrounding her husband’s death and his history. As it happens, it would seem that Eve was in fact only a small part of his life.

The problem was, I felt that this really fascinating thread of the story was glossed over a bit, and not really elaborated upon. This disappointed me as it had intrigued me, and I was left wondering if it would come up further into the book. It was not to be.

This was not the only time I felt as though opportunities to explore great storylines were passed by. The characters of Gabriella and Midge were beautifully written and had some excellent topical issues challenging them in their lives, but these topics were not explored. These two characters, who I felt the most sympathy for and connection with, were really secondary characters to Doris, Annie and Eve.

Further, this trio of characters were not supportive of the others in the group, I felt that they whined a lot, were selfish and competitive and frankly quite shallow. Heaven help you if you were part of their book club!  At various stages I felt like giving them a slap. In short, I felt no empathy with these characters. Each time a chapter came up dealing with their lives I felt like skipping it to see if the next chapter dealt with Midge or Gabriella.

In saying this the story had me drawn in, even if it was out of some degree of frustration with these fairly unlikable characters, and of course, others may find the characters delightful, empathise with their troubles and be satisfied with the storylines. Still, I was left wanting more… more empathy, more details, more resolution.

If you’d like to find out more about Mary Alice Monroe’s The Book Club you can visit the Harlequin website here…