A breezy read that centers on wish fulfillment.



A woman gets a chance to start over in this romantic novel.

On her 50th birthday, Missouri Rothman has a horrible day that culminates with Doyle’s, her husband of 32 years, leaving her for a younger woman. Doyle is a high-ranking professor at the University of Georgia, while Missouri, who does not have a degree, is an administrative associate. Their older son, Michael, only makes Missouri feel worse by asking what she did to drive Doyle away. But the couple’s younger son, Cody, is soon by her side to offer comfort and cook for her. The terms of the divorce give Missouri a chance to go back to school, and with help from her friend Amelia and her former high school art teacher, Thelma Coley, she gets into art school. Despite the awkwardness of being an older student, Missouri is quickly recognized for her talent and given a chance to study in Florence. Doyle, who has started to regret his decision, is resistant to this idea and gets his sons to object as well. She decides to go anyway. In Italy, she is intrigued to discover that one of her new professors is a handsome American. He turns out to be quite interested in her, but her family finds ways to meddle in their budding relationship. It is very easy for readers to root for Missouri, and her post-divorce adventures are often satisfying. But there are some missed opportunities in the construction of the narrative. Readers don’t learn much about the basis of Missouri’s love for Doyle other than that he was attractive and that they were together a long time. This makes it difficult to relate to the feelings she has about their divorce. In addition, the events in Pritchett’s (Like Peaches and Pickles, 2017) tale are somewhat predictable, and things can come a little too easily to Missouri. Readers never get to see her truly struggle with school. But while the writing and story transitions can be abrupt, the text shines brightest in the details of Missouri’s artistry and the landscapes of Italy.

A breezy read that centers on wish fulfillment.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61296-797-4

Page Count: 138

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2018

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Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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