Mother’s Day is today, and I hope all the moms out there have a chance to enjoy a beautiful day, doing whatever brings you joy: spending time with family, a nice long walk, reading a good book. Today’s Book Report features two moms dealing with what life brings them.
Amy Poeppel’s first novel, “Small Admissions,” dealt with a young woman finding her way as an admissions counselor in a tiny Upper East Side school. It was funny and charming, and the characters were delightful.
Her newest novel, “Limelight," focuses on a woman who is older and more experienced. When Allison’s husband gets a job in New York City, she packs up the entire family and they make the move to the Upper East Side.
Her teenage daughter, Charlotte, is devastated to be leaving her boyfriend behind. Younger siblings Jack and Megan weren’t quite as upset, but they are having adjustment issues as well, and when Allison’s expected teaching job falls through, she begins to doubt their move was wise.
Allison tries her best to make friends with the moms at school drop-off, but their cliquish behavior makes that difficult. One day at school, she accidentally dings an expensive car, and leaves a note with her phone number.
The car belongs to a young man, Carter Reid, a teen music superstar (think Justin Bieber) about to make his Broadway debut in a musical remake of a Charlie Chaplin film. When Allison goes to his apartment to deal with the issue, she is confronted with a young man out of control. He is drunk, naked, breaking things and yelling.
Somehow Allison ends up as Carter’s personal assistant, and it becomes Allison’s task to get Carter ready for Broadway. It’s no small task: He skips rehearsals, finds learning his lines impossible, and fears failure so badly that he sabotages himself.
“Limelight” is a sweet, funny, lovely book. Poeppel has a sharp sense of humor, and I laughed out loud more than once at her clever turn of phrase. (About moving from a home to a high-rise apartment she writes, “Our furniture seemed confused and uneasy to be sitting 13 stories in the air.”)
Allison’s experience as a mom makes her the perfect assistant to Carter, and I also loved her own mom, a woman who moved to Dallas to be with her daughter’s family, and is now moving to Westchester to be with them again.
If you want a story with wonderful characterizations and an insider’s look at Broadway (with a cameo appearance by Kevin Kline), and one that will make you laugh, “Limelight” has you covered. I highly recommend it.
Erin Duffy’s fantastic debut novel, “Bond Girl,” was based on her experiences as a young woman working in the hectic, hypermasculine world of hedge funds. Her latest novel, “Regrets Only,” features a 36-year-old woman who gives up her career when she finds true love.
Like Allison in “Limelight,” Claire Mackenzie moves away from her home in Chicago when her husband, Owen, gets a job in his hometown in Stamford, Connecticut. They are madly in love, and new parents to 8-month-old Bo, the light of their lives.
Claire is exhausted, knows no one and is on her own because Owen travels frequently for his job. When Claire discovers that her husband has been having an affair with his high school sweetheart, her new life is destroyed.
Owen won’t let her take their son home to Chicago, so she is stuck in Stamford, where the high school sweetheart’s friends endeavor to make Claire more miserable than she already is.
Claire’s friend Antonia comes from Chicago to help, and Claire makes a friend in Lissy, the library story hour reader, who also owns a stationery store in town. The two women work hard to bring Claire out of her funk, and encourage her to forget Owen (and stop doing crazy things like filling his clothes and shoes with beans).
Lissy needs serious help with her store, and Claire uses her organizing, social media and marketing skills to help Lissy rebrand her store. I enjoyed this part of the story a great deal.
“Regrets Only” deals realistically with a woman who finds her life suddenly turned upside-down, and is facing life as a single mom. But it also has humorous moments, and the bond among the three women is life-affirming.