Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Allure of Women's Fiction

A friend recently sent me a copy of  Mary Alice Monroe's  Time is a River and I dived right in. It's set in western North Carolina and is the story of a breast cancer survivor, looking to rebuild her life after her husband has dumped her for a younger woman.  


I'm kind of fascinated how many books there are with a similar theme -- woman seeking wholeness -- and how many are best sellers. Which leads me to wonder how many women there are in real life on a similar quest.
This book has a nice extra -- fly fishing.  Mia, the protagonist, after attending a fly fishing workshop designed for breast cancer survivors, stays on in a run-down cabin once owned by a famous fly fisherwoman -- one of the first -- who became infamous when she was charged with murder. In an old armoire, Mia discovers vintage fly rods -- and beautiful china and silver, as well as a royal blue taffeta evening gown.  When she later finds diaries kept by the supposed murderer,  Mia is hooked -- so to speak.

And so was I.

The mystery of the infamous previous owner is eventually unwound in a very intriguing manner and there is lots of lovely description of fly fishing and the beautiful setting. 


I read far more critically these days and, while there were bits of the novel that were predictable -- here comes the hunky and sensitive guy for her to fall in love with -- I was fascinated by the very predictability of it.  But a certain amount of predictability is comforting, I suppose. 


Mia spends a lot of time cleaning up this old cabin  she's renting and making improvements to it. Of course this is a metaphor for what she's doing with her own life but I admit to being a complete sucker for tales of people fixing up old places -- Laurie R. King's Folly, one of my favporite novels, hit a lot of the same notes. And somewhere I have the beginning of a novel I started forty years ago with Hester and a snarky husband and the old farmhouse she brings to life.


This was a very pleasant read -- and I'll pass it along. If you'd like to have your name put in the hat, tell me so in the comments. I'll draw a name on Wednesday.
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19 comments:

Brian Miller said...

i think there are men that search for that wholeness as well. why do we feel we need it? i think the answers may be as diverse as the stars or more similar than we could ever imagine...

Ms. A said...

Very well said, Brian!

Pat in east TN said...

I love getting reading recommendations from friends ... thanks Vicki! Put my name in the hat.

Jon Lee said...

I love this post Vicki. I love reading, and I love books about women and fixing up a house, and in the process, fixing up their lives. I would love to have my name put in a hat for this book. Also, the book about Hester sounds intriguing.

June said...

Don't put my name in the hat, thanks, because I've already enjoyed Time is a River.

Having spent the better part of the week reading Lit Lite, Chick Lit, whatever one wants to call it . . . I will agree that the predictability is a comfort. It's like reading fairy tales . . . you know Good and Love and Hope will win in the end.
As for the "searching for wholeness," I think that applies to introspective people of both sexes, and perhaps to people of a certain age.

Carol@The Writers Porch said...

Glad you enjoyed it Vicki! I was hooked by the NC Mountain setting,the river and the isolated cabin.The Fly-Fishing was pretty interesting too. I also like to try to figure out where the fictional town is...I settled on Hot Springs or Weaverville. :)

Martin H. said...

Count me in please, Vicki. Sounds just like the kind of novel that would appeal to my wife, Mags.

NCmountainwoman said...

As you probably know, there are retreats for "Casting for Recovery," a program geared to help women become whole after breast cancer surgery. It's a wonderful program with retreats all over the United States. (In fact, retreats are held in nearby Canton at the Lake Logan Center.) The small groups learn fly fishing techniques and the focus is on empowerment rather than helplessness. Don't put my name in the hat...I read and enjoyed the book already.

100 Thoughts of Love said...

I never pass up a free read!!!Count me in please.I love books that involve fixing up houses as well, of course I like to do that in real life so, go figure! I also like books where they cook a lot and describe the food in detail, so...go figure that one as well!

Louise said...

Aren't we all seeking wholeness? We grow that way. This sounds like the kind of book that I'd like to read, so please put my name in the hat.

Vicki Lane said...

Over on Facebook, someone commented that she's like to see the woman attain wholeness without needing a man (or woman) to complete the equation. I kinda agree -- although this woman was certainly on the way to completion when this fella showed up.

Carol, I'd been thinking Brevard. . . it would be interesting to know.

Mama-Bug said...

Please count me in Vicki; this sounds like a great read!

Witch of Stitches said...

I love your recommendations to so put my name in that hat please. It sounds like a good read!

Nancy M. said...

Vicki, definitely put my name in the pot! This sounds like my kind of book!

Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen said...

I'm always fascinated in some books that just when I think the predictable is going to happen, it doesn't. I don't know why I'm always surprised by this. Guess I'm an amateur detective at heart. Nice to know I might get it right this time with the guy showing up at the right time.

Please put my name in the hat. Sounds like a fun read.
Sam

Liz said...

Fly-fishing is one of the things I really want to learn about when we move to NC - yes - put my name in for the book!

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Vicki, I've been away for awhile and when back, caught up with family crises and such, so I haven't been reading your blog or doing my own. I don't think I want to put my name in the hat for this. I'm pulled in a different direction with reading right now, mostly poetry and non-fiction. Much of it somewhat dark, which can be predictable, too, of course, but oddly enough, the straight-eyed stare into the dark can be comforting, too, especially if rendered well. More and more, I see poetry as a way of doing this. I wish more people would put their names in the hat for certain books of poetry. Maybe I will do a blog feature on this.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

If any of you subscribe to the New Yorker, there's a wonderful "dark" and unpredictable poem by David Huddle, an Appalachian native, in the new issue. About Vultures. I love it. Funny, yet serious. The kind of poetry I'm drawn to right now.

vicki archer said...

It sounds like a great read Vicki...count me in....xv