Title: The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Author: Darien Gee
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Published: (expected) January 29, 2012 – Ballantine Books
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Synopsis (publisher): Welcome to Avalon, Illinois, Pop. 4,243
At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.
Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.
My take: Darien Gee’s novel is filled with interesting characters dealing with heartache, loss, and regrets – yet they keep going. That’s due in part to encouragement from friends and acquaintances. The main characters have some tough issues to work through. I thought Gee handled all of the story lines in an even and believable way.
It’s hard for me to name one character as my favorite but, if pressed, I’d say it was Bettie. She was so “in your face” and unapologetic that it made me laugh more than once. There are reasons for her behavior that made her even more endearing to me. I loved that she was the owner of the scrapbooking business – the person encouraging everyone to preserve their memories.
My only quibble with the novel is that I thought there were too many story lines. I enjoyed each story but thought there were enough for two books. That issue aside, I really liked the book and it’s message that things are not important. What matters most are the people in our lives and the times shared with them.
Fans of novels with recipes won’t be disappointed. There are several at the end of the book.