Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Last of the Summer Reads

In May, I selected eight books I wanted to read for my private summer reading program.  Below are numbers six and seven.  I've run out of summer and haven't gotten to that last book - The Uninvited Guests - but I'll tack it on my so-far-unwritten fall list.

Porch Lights by Dorothea Benton Frank:  When her husband is killed in the line of duty, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, decide to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island.  Awaiting them is Annie Britt, the family matriarch who has kept the porch lights on to welcome them home. Thrilled to have her family back, Annie promises to make their visit perfect—even though relations between mother and daughter have never been smooth. Annie's estranged and wise husband, Buster, and her flamboyant and funny best friend, Deb, are sure to keep Annie in line. She's also got Steven Plofker—the flirtatious and tasty widowed physician next door, to keep her distracted. (from publisher's blurb)
Funny - in a "not really" sort of way - that I find myself identifying more with the matriarch in many books lately, rather than the younger heroine.  I liked Annie.  She grates on people, she's a perfectionist, she's a little bossy - at least that's what her husband and daughter see.  But when you get inside her head, she is so much more and her motives are always for the benefit of her family.  Jackie, her daughter, should be the more compassion-inducing character - young widow, war veteran, single mother - but I found her a bit self-indulgent and headstrong.  I'm sure many readers under forty will see the relationship differently.

Whichever side of that line you're on, I think you'll enjoy this story.  It's a 4-star winner on my scale.  Here are a couple of quotes I especially liked:

You want a piece of advice from a tired sixty-three-year-old waitress who has seen it all? . . . Love your momma, honey, and try to treasure every minute you spend with her.  Forgive her everything she does. She's not out to aggravate you.  I'd give every last tooth I have left in my head to have my momma back for just ten minutes.  I'm not lying either.  She was the best friend I ever had, and well, I didn't know it until she was gone.
The young people dressed as though they had no respect for the sanctity of the occasion of worship, but don't get me started on that either.  Church is no place for shorts and jeans, even if one attends the twenty-eighth splintered-off sect of some minuscule, hardly-heard-of Protestant church that holds it's services in a barn.  Sorry.  You're going to worship the Lord?  Dress for the occasion, please.
Wallflower in Bloom by Claire Cook:  A winning and witty novel about a woman who emerges from the shadow of her overbearing family and finds herself “dancing with the stars.”  Deirdre Griffin has a great life; it’s just not her own. She’s the round-the-clock personal assistant to her charismatic, high-maintenance, New Age guru brother, Tag. As the family wallflower, her only worth seems to be as Tag’s gatekeeper at his New England seaside compound.
Then Deirdre’s sometime boyfriend informs her that he is marrying another woman. While drowning her sorrows in expensive vodka, Deirdre decides to use her brother’s massive online following to get herself voted on as a last-minute Dancing with the Stars replacement. 
Irresistible and offbeat, Wallflower in Bloom is an original and deeply satisfying story of having the courage to take a leap into the spotlight, no matter where you land. (from publisher's blurb)

Being a big fan of Dancing With the Stars, this book caught my eye just for the potential of a behind-the-scenes glimpse.  Deirdre has shades of Bridget Jones, and similar humor.  She is a charming protagonist - so totally unaware of her own talents and value - that you want to call in and vote for her.  Also a 4-star read.


  1. I think Porch Lights will be a book for me! Thanks for the review and the quotes are great!

  2. I fell 2 short of my summer list goal of 10...oh well, it's fine with you. I now took a few from your list to add to mine.