Saturday, May 17, 2008
Review: The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square
The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square by Rosina Lippi
Reasons for reading: An ad in Shelf Awareness; South Carolina setting
Book description: For John Dodge, moving to new places and reviving ailing businesses is a way of life. So when he sees an ad for Scriveners, a stationery shop in a small town in South Carolina, he decides to take the plunge. As soon as he arrives in Lambert's Corner, Dodge falls happily into the whirl of gossip, gifts, and quintessential Southern hospitality. Link Kay, one of his employees, warms up to him after Dodge admires his expertise on pens. Bean Hurt- a feisty and outspoken ten-year-old-becomes a fast friend. And Maude Golden, the mayor, supplies him with indispensable information. But the one person who really catches Dodge's eye is Julia Darrow-the beautiful but aloof pajama- wearing owner of the Cocoon, a popular store specializing in luxury linens. Dodge tries to befriend her, but she remains elusive and mysterious. Everyone knows that she is a widow, but no one seems to know why she came to town or why she never leaves Lambert Square-or does she? Like Dodge, Chicago-born Julia is fleeing a tumultuous past. But with the help of a hilarious and endearing cast of characters, Julia and Dodge learn that, sometimes, you don't need to go far to find home.
My thoughts: Just super! Words like "sparkling" and "fresh" come to mind. I read this in the first 24 or so hours after getting back from Charleston because I couldn't bear to leave SC (little did I know, Lippi is a Pacific Northwester - but she does a great job of the setting).
John and Julia are excellent main characters - they're both trying to escape something, but they still manage to be kind, intelligent, and interesting. I love that the girls in Cocoon wear beautiful pajamas and that Julia wears them almost exclusively. I'd love to do that!! Despite his permanent case of wanderlust, Dodge goes out of his way to be friendly and help people. One of my favourite parts were his attempts to record his answering machine message after each caller leaves him advice on how it was too terse or too wordy or not friendly enough or too friendly.
The townspeople of Lamb's Corner make excellent secondary characters - Link's habit of squirreling away the best pens, two of Julia's more elderly Needlework Girls who know everyone's business and (like the rest of the town) have no problem barging into Dodge's apartment to offer all kinds of food, gifts, and advice; bombshell mayor Maude; and Bean and her mother Mayme who just want to find happiness after Bean's daddy left them. Plus the rather bewildered Swedes who are coming to Lamb's Corner to open a plant for Kallsjo (or, as the locals say it "Kallie-Jo) cars. Another favourite scene has the Needlework Girls completely at a loss as to why Kallsjo can't just build Dodge trucks instead of those impractical, silly little foreign cars, anyway.
This book has it all - romance, humour, tragedy, family struggles, friendship... I definitely recommend it.