The Robbins household looks perfect from the outside: no dust, no stains, no wrinkles. Yet a glimpse into its heart reveals no laughter, no closeness, no joy. Olivia thinks that if she keeps everything tidy and serves delicious meals on time, family life is bound to get better. But when her husband, Nick, misses their anniversary, she realizes no amount of domestic success will compensate for failure in their marriage, or for her own failure to develop her identity, always busy as a mother, wife, and neighbor, she has forgotten how to be a unique and vibrant individual. Determined to make a change, Olivia joins a local book club, where she nurtures new friendships and explores new ideas. But her growing confidence falters when Nick declares his independence, and while her new friends lovingly encircle her with support, only Olivia can reach into the depths of her fledgling self to find the faith, hope, and love her troubled family needs. (Goodreads)
Reviewed by Laura Madsen
OLIVIA, by Julie Wright, is the first of The Newport Ladies Book Club series, which consists of four books, written by four authors, following the stories of four women who are drawn together by their love of reading.
Olivia is a forty-something wife and mother of four. Her husband, Nick, also has two grown children from a previous marriage but from whom he is estranged. Nick has grown distant from Olivia and their children, and she feels like her life is falling apart. Julie Wright perfectly captures the feelings of a deteriorating marriage: the subtle verbal jabs, the silence, the smothering tension in the home, the discomfort of being close, and the pain of being apart. After Nick fails to show up for their anniversary dinner, Olivia sees a flyer for a new women’s book club. She hesitates; she wants to join but feels like she can’t take the time away from her troubled family. After arguing with herself, she joins the club and meets the other women, Daisy, Paige and Athena, whose stories will be featured in the following books.
All of the women are in crisis, facing loneliness, divorce, an unexpected pregnancy, a mother’s death, and a father’s dementia. All are struggling, trying—as many women do—to bravely solve their problems without inconveniencing anyone, but they all need help. They reach out to each other, hesitantly at first but later with a fierce loyalty. They learn to trust each other and develop deep friendships.
The other books in the series will be released throughout 2012:
DAISY, by Josi S. Kilpack
PAIGE, by Annette Lyon
ATHENA, by Heather Moore
I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series to learn the other women’s stories from their points of view.
Market: Adult fiction (women's lit)