Because this is a women’s book you will read about a man, probably a husband, and he will be successful and fit and when he dies he will leave his wife betrayed, in debt and uninformed.
A newly widowed Bostonian author of children’s books sells her house and drives to Chicago looking at pretty houses and a town to live in. She finds an old Victorian house and buys it. She calls up old friends and discovers other lives running alongside hers. She moves on…
A widowed librarian makes friends with an old man who leaves her his land in Australia, near Perth, on the condition that she will live there for a year, alone. She leaves her brother with his communication problems and moves to the charming Western Australian estate, where the passionate, difficult artist next door intrigues her. The old man had wished for this before his death, and advised her that she would have to play seductress… Meanwhile, a wicked nephew tries to scare her off the land, her brother tries to boss her around, and the painter’s daughter comes for a long visit. Kirsty’s feisty personality blooms in Australia, and the local characters are cozy and sweet in their down under accents. Well read.
Imagine a Cobbled Court Quilt Shop. A Blue Bean Bakery. A For the Love of Lavender Herbal Boutique. Farms, handiwork, handicraft, prudent, helpful, hardware-toting neighbors, dainty small town gossip, happy volunteers, lavender soap: the fantasmatic drift of post-Madoff sub-urban female regret. What does a pretty pacified community look like when the women take over the finances and the values? New Bern, Connecticut.
Madelyn, “the widow Madoff”, is back in New Bern, Connecticut because that’s where the inherited house is located. But she might as well be “the ex-Mrs. Madoff” or the “Green Mrs. Madoff” or the “recovering Mrs. Madoff”. She and the house are ready for a reconstruction. Tessa is a new Christian, newly broke. She runs a lavender shop and quilts and prays. Listen:
..Then one day when I was in the shop, repairing some stitching on Madelyn’s quilt, I started praying. I prayed for Lee, for Josh, for Madelyn, for Margo, for Virginia, Evelyn, for all my doubts and worries as well as all the things I’m grateful for… Somehow as I was praying, rocking that needle back and forth the way Virginia taught me, I forgot to be awkward. Prayer flowed from me naturally, in a plain and continuous pattern that mirrored the motion of my needle; simple, rhythmic, thought by thought, stitch by stitch, forgetting to be worried about the outcome, focused only on that stitch, that inch, that curve, until I came to the end of my thread and myself and pulled my gaze back to discover the bigger picture….
Madelyn rebuilds her life at the same time she rebuilds the old house, from the inside out, with the help of a one-eyed recovering alcoholic Vietnam Veteran who runs the hardware store, and Tessa, and Lee, Tessa’s reconstructed farmer-accountant-husband, and all the girls from the Quilting Circle, and their friends…
How fun to be a stubborn, sensible English widow who takes up decorating or hotelkeeping or moves to Brighton. The kind of fun that takes time: not like those television garden shows that demonstrate
“how to transform an entire garden in a matter of five hours while the lady of the house [goes to] visit her mother in the next town. …A team would move in. They would spend an inordinate amount of money on mature plants, containers, garden furniture, trellising and ceramic slabs… Towards the end there would be moments of panic because the wife was due to walk in the door in precisely seven minutes time…”
No, Caroline has fun slowly. She sells her old house at Bath slowly, she moves to Brighton slowly, she fixes her old house slowly, and then converts a new house into flats, slowly. Meanwhile she discovers that she’s “…got a wonderful eye for fabrics, window treatments, lighting, decorating, color schemes and so on … even furniture.” Then, very slowly, she turns her builder into her friend and her friend into her partner, slowly, sensibly, with a happy division of labour:
I’m asking you to design while I carry out the practical part.
Millie is a happy widow who is a member of the Red Hat Club. She has just dyed her hair cinnamon. She wants to travel and step down from her job as ‘domestic goddess’, but she has two sons who are slobs. One has moved into her basement apartment after being kicked out by his wife, and one expects her to clean his apartment and do his laundry until he gets married. This is the story about how Millie organizes a home economics course to teach her two sons how to boil an egg. Sweet, warm cozy book read by the sweet warm cozy voice of Cynthia Darlow.
A mature, stubborn wealthy widow gathers up a group of brittle, neurotic or lonely girlfriends to help her daughter succeed as a journalist for one of the lesser entertainment magazines. The helpful project helps the girls in turn. A Red Hat Club imitation, without the charm.
Lots of interesting characters on Blossom Street: a widow with an adopted daughter, a tough ex-punk happily married and unhappily smoking, a good son and chocolate factory owner with a growing heart problem, a charmed and charming owner of a knitting store, a gorgeous single girl getting over an ex-fiancee who fancied prostitutes. Too bad all the characters sound like a relentlessly perky meet-and-greet girl selling God on morning talk radio.
Good defense attorneys are familiar with the figures of vulnerability: the good father of a mad, ungrateful daughter, the young grieving widow, the secretary who knows too much. And they are familiar with the figures of corruption: the oversexed politician, the narrow-minded small town sheriff, the power hungry prosecutor, the greedy pharmaceutical executive. Vulnerability and corruption, however, are not enough. There must also be a reason, a lesson, a moral, and a story something a first year law student can outline and articulate and reference. Not too bloody, not too sexy, not too sad. Just long enough to make us want a fair and happy ending. Which we get.