Back of the book:
At forty-one, Vivian Armstrong Gray spent most of her life fighting to make it in investigative journalism, only to have it crumble after a bullet lodges in her backside during an expose. As if the humiliation of being the butt of everyone’s jokes isn’t enough, Vivi learns that she’s pregnant, jobless, and very hormonal. Maybe that explains why she actually says “yes” to a dreadful job covering suburban living back home in Georgia, a column she can only bear to write incognito.
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Magnolia Wednesdays is an entertaining novel that at times had me feeling exasperated by Vivi and other times wanting to give her a consoling hug. Vivian is clearly hormonal. Her sister Melanie invites her to live in her home after Vivi loses her job and finds out she’s pregnant. Melanie and her two children are still mourning the death of her husband (two years earlier). Vivi welcomes the chance to help her sister with the kids and also at Melanie’s dance studio. Melanie is only too happy to accept the help. Some of the things Vivi finds herself doing are carpool, volunteering at their school, and teaching her nephew to drive. These activities conveniently give her material for her new column Postcards From Suburbia.
At the Magnolia Ballroom and Dance Studio Vivi meets Ruth who spends most days helping Melanie around the studio. Ruth refuses to cut Vivi any slack. She knows Vivi was not around for Melanie when her husband died. Ruth is also very unhappy that her husband refuses to retire and spend more time with her. They’re in their seventies and she’d like to enjoy the golden years together.
In addition to their behind the scene duties, Ruth and Vivi agree to help Melanie by taking a belly dance class on Wednesday nights. Angela, a young woman who managed to lose a great deal of weight a few years earlier, is also in the Wednesday night class. Angela is engaged to a wonderful man who met her after she lost weight. She’s very insecure and feels he will think differently about her if he finds out about how she used to look. She doesn’t seem to be enjoying what should be an exciting time in her life.
So there are three main story lines. I found the first two (Vivi and Ruth) more interesting than Angela’s but I think Wendy Wax did a great job pulling everything together. There are a couple of twists along the way and an ending that made me smile.
Review copy from Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting
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Magnolia Wednesdays – on sale March 2, 2010