cover image The Lion Is In

The Lion Is In

Delia Ephron. Penguin/Blue Rider, $24.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-15848-3

Ephron's newest (after The Girl with the Mermaid Hair) follows a trio of women looking to escape their pasts and build a new life in an unlikely place and with an even stranger companion%E2%80%94a former circus lion named Marcel. Lana is a tough recovering alcoholic who has always served as protector of her best friend, Tracee, a kleptomaniac abandoned by her parents when she was young, and currently on the run from dashed hopes that her bum ex would propose. While fixing a flat on their getaway Mustang, Lana and Tracee%E2%80%94still in her immaculate stolen gown%E2%80%94meet Rita, a middle-aged wife and mother wandering down the road, seeking a life apart from her controlling and unloving pastor husband. When an accident leaves them stranded outside a haphazardly built diner called The Lion%E2%80%94complete with a big cat in a big cage%E2%80%94the women's journeys stall, but their lives intertwine and grow together. Taking up as waitresses at the restaurant, they find comfort in their differences, and the strange allure of Marcel%E2%80%94once the center of attention in the big-top%E2%80%94impels the women to reclaim their lives. Ephron fans and newcomers alike will find plenty to enjoy in this fun, refreshing, and incredibly touching read. (May)