The Book Club

Mary Alice Monroe, Author Mira Books $5.99 (402p) ISBN 978-1-55166-530-6

Monroe's (Girl in the Mirror) new novel opens as five friends, all members of a monthly book club, face turning points in their lives. Eve's husband dies suddenly, shattering her comfortable lifestyle, while Midge's mother makes an unannounced and unwelcomed reappearance. Annie finally feels ready to have a child, only to find her health and her marriage in jeopardy. Gabriella strains to make ends meet after her husband is laid off; Doris slides into depression as she tries to deny signs of her husband's infidelity. Sometimes close to and sometimes at odds with each other, the friends struggle to face harsh realities and, in the process, gain new independence. The actual book club of the title plays an oddly small role in this celebration of friendship and growth--the books the club reads are mentioned only briefly and often seem irrelevant to the women's struggles. Still, Monroe offers up believable characters in a well-crafted story. (Sept.)
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