cover image The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society

Darien Gee. Ballantine, $26 (448p) ISBN 978-0-345-52537-6

Revisiting the busybody river town of Avalon, Ill., Gee (Friendship Bread) pens another sentimental ode to the domestic arts and their power to save women in crisis. “Scrapbooks are about memories,” Bettie, president and founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, preaches to reluctant newcomers Connie, Yvonne, Ava, and Frances, each wrestling with painful pasts and uncertain futures. Orphan Connie, part of the kitchen help at Avalon’s must-meet-and-eat spot, Madeline’s Tea Salon, lets a troublemaking goat named Serena show her that home is where the heart is. Yvonne, one-time society dame who now works as a plumber, turns her back on a villainous family and rediscovers a lost love. Ava, the insecure single mother of a young son, the product of an affair with a married man, finds the courage to reconcile with the woman whose home she wrecked. And the unconditional love of Frances’s family helps her accept the daunting challenge of adopting a baby with a disability. But it’s Bettie’s heartbreaking battle with her failing memory that brings the women—and the town of Avalon—together to cherish both her and their past in a three-hanky nod to It’s a Wonderful Life. Gee—who also writes as Mia King (Table Manners)—gets the unapologetically schmaltzy tone just right with the irresistible premise that we can love the impossible. A surefire book club hit. Agent: Dorian Karchmar, WME Entertainment. (Feb.)