I've been felled like a giant dead tree these past two days by the same nasty virus that took a hold of my RRHB last week. I slept ALL day yesterday. Didn't move from the couch, ran a fever, and read when I could keep my eyes open for more than fifteen minutes. I did manage to crawl out from under the duvet, have a shower, and accompany my family to the Marlies game, which was piles of fun. After we got home, I crashed on the couch again and was in bed two second after Lost was finished (does anyone understand what's going on with that show?). So, on top of disease crap I've caught whatever bug is going around. It's winter, it's to be expected. But I'm telling you, the only thought that's been going through my head all week is quitting my job and living in California for the next three months to write. Annnywaay. Three books. Three reviews. Here's the first.
#8 - The Almost Archer Sisters
Way, way, way back in the day when I actually went to a book club (a terribly scarring experience, truly), Lisa Gabriele came to meet with us and talk about her book Tempting Faith DiNapoli. She was lovely and it was a really nice experience (I, of course, had not read the book, but I did go back and read it afterwards). Fast-forward many years and I have been thankfully freed from book club for some time now. But I did want to read The Almost Archer Sisters for a few reasons: 1. the fond memories of talking with her about her first book; 2. the great review the novel got in the Globe and Mail and 3. because of the lovely note my friend Randy had attached to the book when it showed up in my mailbox. He said, "it's just the ticket when these cold winter months are upon us."
Peachy has always lived in the shadow of her older sister Beth. Both scarred by the death of their mother from a young age, how they've grown up and around the gaping hole left behind by her non-presence rolls itself out predictably: Peachy clings to safe and stable things, she wants to be a social worker, she's got a solid marriage (even if she did get knocked up at 20), and two great kids (one of whom suffers from seizures). Beth rumbles around her life like a constantly breaking wave, causing trouble for all the swimmers in her wake, ruining lives and always hurting those who love her the most. All of this leads to the action (plot device?) that spurns the rest of the novel: Peachy stumbles downstairs late at night to find her husband and sister having sex. Peachy's husband, Beau Laliberte, was once Beth's boyfriend, and she left him behind all busted up and broken, too. Peachy decides then and there that Beth needs a dose of reality -- she leaves her sister behind with her family while she goes off to enjoy a weekend in New York alone.
The novel's premise, while terribly contrived, enables the author to explore the ins and outs of Peachy's life from an emotional standpoint that could only be accessed after the kind of shocking event that tends to force someone into change. Her insights are open, honest and heartbreaking at times. And there are parts of the novel where you couldn't find a better writer describing the inner workings of long-term relationships and motherhood. The novel remains cinematic from start to finish and even includes a 'big city shopping montage' that makes it impossible for me not to compare The Almost Archer Sisters to some of the better chicklit out there, think Gemma Townley and not Sophie Kinsella. I will, however, say that there's a part of the novel I liked so much that I read it through about six times before finally closing the book. Yes, you can imagine it's the end, so I'm not going to spoil it except to say that Gabriele's story was just what I needed this week.
READING CHALLENGES: Lucky for me that Gabriele is Canadian, which means I'm counting this novel towards my Canadian Book Challenge. That makes nine books (and I'm just about to write up #10 too!).