I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
M.J. Stark’s life is picture-perfect—she has her dream job as a magazine editor, a sexy doctor boyfriend, and a glamorous life in New York City. But behind her success, there is a debilitating sense of loneliness. So when her boss betrays her and her boyfriend offers her a completely new life in California, she trades her cashmere for caftans and gives it a try. Once there, M.J. is left to fend for herself in a small beach town, with only the company of her elderly neighbor, Gloria, and an ocean that won’t shut up.
One afternoon, M.J. discovers that Gloria has suddenly moved to Paris with her friends to honor a fifty-year-old pact. And in lieu of a goodbye, she’s left a mysterious invitation to a secret club—one that only reads erotic books. Curious, M.J. accepts and meets the three other hand-selected club members. As they bond over naughty bestsellers and the shocking letters they inherited from the original club members, the four strangers start to divulge the intimate details of their own lives… and as they open up, they learn that friendship might just be the key to rewriting their own stories: all they needed was to find each other first.
Probably a three star book with regards to writing & plot, but I really enjoyed the female friendships so I’ve bumped it up by a star.
Younger readers may not appreciate the revolutionary nature of the older women’s dirty book club—both the claiming of their sexuality and the realization that societal expectations didn’t need to define their lives. In a world where women are told that a marriage is a greater achievement than a good career and where there is still a double standard for men & women’s sex lives, we may still require a bit more liberation.
I had great sympathy for M.J. who lost her entire family to a car crash. My parents were killed in a similar way and I remember finding refuge from my feelings at work. I was able to go in, put my head down, and not think about my personal life for 7-8 hours, a big relief. I also remember that other people were ready for me to be “back to normal” far sooner than I was. In fact, I had to build a new normal—you can’t go back to the old normal, those people are gone. So I identified with her submersion in her work and with her heel-dragging with regards to change.
This book illustrates one of my guiding principles—men come & go from my life, but my female friends are my bedrock. We don’t have to agree on everything, we can argue & fight without wrecking the relationship, but when the chips are down we can count on one another. We can talk out our problems and be sounding boards for each other. I can live without a man in my life, but I can’t live without my circle of women friends.