Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Review: Welcome to the Great Mysterious

Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik

Summary (from Publisher's Weekly): At age 48, self-absorbed Broadway diva Geneva Jordan is called upon by her twin sister, Ann, to come to . . .Deep Lake, Minn., and baby-sit Rich, Ann's 13-year-old son, afflicted with Down's Syndrome. Ann and her husband, Riley, desperately need a vacation, the first one since Rich's birth, so Geneva reluctantly agrees to leave her glamorous life in New York City to care for her nephew for a month. Geneva slips into the role of parental figure with a few minor snags, and she and Rich bond over a box of old toys, where Geneva uncovers a scrapbook she and Ann made as children. Titled The Great Mysterious, the book asks such existential questions as "What is true love?" and "What is the meaning of life?" to which each family member wrote an answer. This diversion motivates Geneva's metamorphosis. Reading the words of her grandmother and parents, she begins to feel the ache of having given up family for her career. Still reeling from a "double-hitter - heartbreak and menopause" (she had broken up with her Broadway co-star), Geneva forges a special friendship with James, Deep Lake's wise mailman. She does, however, return to New York, where she considers marriage proposals until tragedy strikes a dear friend, forcing her yet again to reevaluate what's important in life.

Why'd I pick it up? I'm working my way through her books - I loved Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons and have really enjoyed the others. Plus, she's from Minnesota and I always try to take Minnesotan books with me on our annual trip to visit Husband's family.

Favourite part: I loved the idea of the family's Great Mysterious book - it made me wish I had one in my family and it was such a lovely experience for everyone to share.

Overall: This was a great quick read - I got through over half of it just during our plane delay and was finished by the second day of our trip. As with the author's Patty Jane's House of Curl, I found it to be a touching portrait of the lives of 2 very different sisters. Unlike the wonderful Bon Bons and also Patty Jane's, it didn't have a whole lot of breadth and depth, but those ones took place over decades, this one is basically just about one year, with some flashbacks. There were a few predictable bits, but it was full of humour and heart. I loved that Geneva was a Broadway star and how she came to enjoy small-town Midwestern life, too.

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