"An inspiring, funny tale of one woman's journey to become a better person."– Kirkus Reviews
An almost-desperate housewife grows from shallow to fulfilled in debut author Colston’s comic tale of self-discovery.
According to a quiz in Cosmo, Holly is shallow. She’s a stay-at-home mother raising three kids with a loving husband who has to travel frequently for work. Supported by her husband’s paycheck and hampered by laziness, she turns to alcohol and catty lunches with friends to find enjoyment in life. After the “shallow” verdict compels her into the self-help section, she finds Devi Phoenix’s Discover Your Inner Goddess!, which starts her down the long road toward loving herself. The methods that guide her to discovering her own inner goddess—creating anti-goddesses out of her fears, going on a cleansing diet, yoga—often have comical consequences before she learns from mistakes and moves forward. Her transformation is revealed not only in what she writes, but in how she writes it; though her snarky tone remains, and her moments of clarity follow a similar pattern with each step she takes, it’s clear from the changes in how she observes herself and her world that she has succeeded in becoming a different person. She surrendered to her unhappiness, despite the advantages in her life. Fortunately, Colston builds Holly as a likable character even at her cattiest; she becomes a better person without losing her charm. The excerpts from the self-help book are less engaging, and though the steps work for Holly, readers may be frustrated by the idea that they would work universally, which the novel seems to suggest. Holly benefits from the luxury of being able to afford day care as she begins taking yoga classes and partaking in other activities recommended in the self-help book, although she never truly acknowledges that these advantages enable her to focus on self-revelation to a degree that would most likely extend beyond the reach of a woman in a lower pay bracket. Even though she misses that detail in her self-discovery, Holly is nonetheless an engaging narrator, and the comedy that lightens her journey toward a healthy inner life will keep readers entertained.
An inspiring, funny tale of one woman’s journey to become a better person.
A woman glimpses the lives she could have led in Colston’s (The Undiscovered Goddess, 2012) well-crafted novel.
Charlotte Goodwin is in her early 30s, and while she’s not quite miserable, she’s not exactly happy, either. Her dreams of a career as a ballet dancer were derailed by injury, so she works in the accounting firm of family friend and “adopted parental figure” Sheldon Marshal. Lately, Shel has begun to press her about “awkward and heavy topics. The meaning of life. Love. Adventure.” He also urges her to stop expending energy on her on-again, off-again romance with his nephew, Graham. One night, furious with Graham and drunk on wine, Charlotte is stunned to learn of Shel’s sudden death; as a result, she stumbles into the street and is hit by a car. As she recovers—with Graham, a seemingly changed man, by her side—she starts having strange, hyper-realistic dreams. In one, she’s pregnant and running an Italian restaurant in Chicago. In others, she’s a beach-dwelling bartender and surfer in Hawaii; in New York City with Graham, in a marriage torn by addiction and infidelity; or running a ballet studio in Paris. In each setting, she’s also romantically involved with a kind, giving man named Joe Coletti. Soon she finds herself yearning for these dreams so that she can escape into her various lives with Joe. She starts asking herself impossible questions: What if these aren’t dreams but visions? What if the universe is telling her that she could still make a different choice? In the hands of a less skillful writer, the five interlocking narratives would be four too many. Colston, however, handles the various storylines deftly, grounding each in rich sensory detail. One passage, for example, contrasts the “herbaceous scent of garlic and butter” in a dream’s Italian eatery with the “bleach and panic” of her hospital room. She also provides Charlotte with a strong voice; her conflicting feelings of desire and frustration regarding Graham, and her disbelief that a man like Joe, who treats her well, could possibly exist, are vivid and real throughout.
Readers will be anxious for a sequel to this engaging novel, as one book of Charlotte’s lives isn’t enough.