Reading for Pleasure Wednesday

(Yeah, I know it's Thurs. I started this yesterday and got interrupted. )

The premise of Sue Miller's While I Was Gone is interesting --the heroine, Jo Becker, is a middle-aged veternarian with grown daughters and a comfortable life with her husband of 20 years. But long ago, when she was in her early twenties, she had a first marriage -- which she abandoned for a year, moving to a new city, changing her name, and living in a shared group house. When one of the men from that house shows up in her current life, she is forced to reassess who she really is, what she had been looking for, and how to make sense of her past in her present. But the last third of the book really dragged for me, and I found her character less and less appealing. Oh, and there's an unsolved murder from that past life also, just to sensationalize things. Certain moments, certain emotions, were well handled and interesting. But overall it was just OK. But I did care enough about it to finish the book. Perhaps if I were a baby boomer I would relate more to the book.

If stereotypical "chick lit" is about the trials and tribulations of singletons in the city, I'm not sure what booksellers are calling popular women's fiction that focuses on slightly older women, married women, etc. I think it all gets lumped together, which can be misleading. Jeanne Ray writes novels that remind me a bit of those of Sara Lewis, Claire Cook, and maybe Jennifer Weiner. Eat Cake is a quick, entertaining read (though I think I laughed more at Step Ball Change, one of her other novels) -- the sadness and hilarity that is family life. Add together under one roof fdivorced parents who don't get a long, a husband put out of work, a sulky daughter, and all that Ruth wants to do is bake cake. Warning: there is a LOT of cake in this novel. And recipes at the back. Luckily, I can appreciate the idea of cake without actually needing to eat some, but that might not be true for everyone...