I love the way Deborah McKinlay writes. She could write a laundry list and I’d read it. Her first novel, The View From Here, was everything I love in a novel. It had fascinating characters, an interesting setting and a fairly complex plot with a surprise ending, at least to me. So it was with great pleasure that I opened the advance copy of her latest novel, That Part Was True, that her publisher sent me.
And I was in for a surprise: it was an entirely different kind of read. Now, I don’t want to ruin it for future readers, so I’m not going to give too much plot detail in this review.
This is a book for midlife women and will especially resonate if you have ever had a tense relationship with a grown daughter. And what mother hasn’t?
The story revolves around a author and a midlife woman reader who correspond. It starts with a fan letter from the woman, but through their letters, the pair develop a unique friendship around food, of all things. This was especially surprising because the fictional author is kind of a man’s man. Sort of. (Oh, how I want to say more, but I don’t want to spoil it for you!) He’s not exactly a Prince Charming, but despite his flaws, he is certainly a likeable bloke. The woman is surprising in some ways, but her strength as a character is that she is all too human living a life that hasn’t exactly been perfect. And don’t we all know about THAT.
After I finished the book, I thought about how I’d describe it. Misery loves company and that’s one reason we like to read about the trials and tribulations of other people. But sometimes, some things work out. Sometimes, people work through their personal, relationship, parental or other issues, at least some of them. And sometimes, their story’s got a good ending. That happens in real life.
I know this, because my life went this way. My story would’ve made one kind of novel until my 50s, and then, it turned completely around. It’s hard to avoid being embarrassed about the fact that some of it worked out really well, because so many women continue to struggle with their lives. But once in a while, and maybe more often than we think, things do work out satisfactorily, even if it’s not exactly how we’d envisioned it.
From that standpoint, this book is not a fairy tale. It’s real life.
In this gently-paced novel, some things do work out, and in surprising ways. There’s no shortage of complexities, but they’re tenderly and deliberately unveiled. I was intrigued with the character of Jack, the author, and could appreciate the problems and issues of Eve, the main female character. My single criticism of the book is that I was surprised and disappointed when it ended: I wanted more.
Want to read it? I’ve got two copies to give away. Simply share on Facebook, Twitter, G+ or Instagram and then post here on the blog that you did so. Each share gets you an entry. I’ll draw two names of lucky readers tomorrow night!
That Part Was True is available at all the usual places, starting today. (But if you win a copy you’ll get it free!)
If you’re in the mood for a lovely, gentle novel, it would be a wonderful read for a dreary winter day. Curl up in a comfortable chair, pull the afghan over you and open this sweet book. This would also be a great Valentine’s Day gift for your sister or your BFF…or any midlife woman who likes an unusual romance story.
And while you’re at it? Get The View From Here. But save that one for a day when you’re ready for a more energetic read.
You might keep an eye out for future offerings by Deborah McKinlay. You won’t be disappointed.