Reviewed by Laura Madsen
The Newport Ladies Book Club series (http://thenewportladiesbookclub.blogspot.com/) is written by four authors, each illuminating the point of view of one of the members of the book club. PAIGE is the third of the first four books (OLIVIA and DAISY came out earlier this year, and ATHENA will be released later in 2012). There will be four more books featuring the four other women in the book club.
The first four books occur simultaneously, so there is some repetition (certain conversations and meetings), but the reader sees each event from different points of view. We can never know what is in another person’s head, and that person’s perceptions of an event may differ significantly from our own.
Paige is a young mother, recently divorced and relocated with her two small boys, who joins the ladies’ book club to meet friends. She is a devoted member of the Mormon Church, a very family-oriented faith, and feels guilt over her failed marriage. She has moved from Utah to California to escape the feeling that she was being judged by her marital status, not by her personal qualities. Even in a new state, she feels judged; she muses that she should marry the first single Mormon man she meets so that she will be “normal” and accepted.
Instead, she meets Derryl, a kind, handsome, generous man. The only problem is that he doesn’t share her religion. She must decide what is best for her and her sons. She is also struggling to make ends meet; coming to grips with her ex-husband’s betrayal; trying to nurture her boys as a single mom; and figuring out who the “real” Paige is. She develops deep friendships with the other women from the book club, helping them through marital difficulties (“Denial? I’d been there. I’d set up a summer cottage there,” she writes of Olivia) and being helped by them. After she sends her boys off for a court-ordered visit with their father, she and Daisy commiserate with each other.
I’ve been through divorce (like Paige, dumped for another woman), and Annette Lyon accurately captures the feelings of guilt, anger, and jealousy. Paige realizes that her anger is only hurting herself. She writes, “I hadn’t forgiven Doug or Carol, not even almost. I’d justified my anger and resentment because they were the ones who had committed the sins, broken covenants, torn apart my family. Some days I walked around mad as anything while the two of them lived it up in Honeymoon Land three states away. My refusal to forgive had no impact onthem.” She realizes she needs to forgive her ex—not for his benefit but for her own.
The Newport Ladies series is co-published by two LDS (Mormon) publishers, Covenant and Deseret Book, but is intended for a general audience. Paige’s religion is central to her story, but you don’t have to be Mormon to understand her frustrations and desires.
Market: Adult fiction (women’s lit)
Sensuality: minimal and chasteAdult themes: divorce, adultery, religion