Friday, March 5, 2010

Review: Pieces of Happily Ever After

Summary: What happens after “happily ever after”? Alice Hirsh is about to find out…

Alice, a former New Yorker who thought she’d never feel at home in the bizarre world of the San Fernando Valley, was adapting, raising her 5-year-old daughter while trying to keep her job and make her new house a home. When her attorney husband lands a trophy client – box-office queen Rose Maris – things begin to look up. Then Alex starts working late – a lot. He crunches his paunch into a six-pack and trades his Gap ensembles for Armani everything.

Soon, Rose and Alex’s affair blazes in the tabloids and Alice is plunged into trash-gossip hell. Her life crumbles around her as she navigates her newly single self through suburban LA --a place rife with porn stars, psycho soccer moms and nutty neighbors.

Is there a chance to wrest Alex from the Sexiest Woman Alive? And if so... would Alice want him back? And what about George--her college sweetheart? Or Johnny, a walking charm-bomb paparazzo? As Alice inventories the rubble of her life, she desperately searches for her bearings and is forced to ask herself what she really wants from life, love and herself. -- St. Martin's Griffin

I know that it's incredibly shallow to pick a book based on the cover, but I can't help but be attracted to PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Irene Zutell. As a mother to a girl, I am totally drawn to the little girl on the cover dressed in her princess dress and crocs! It so reminds me of my daughter when she was younger. And I also love that the little girl is chasing what appears to be butterflies, but is really puzzle pieces. LOVE IT!

But there is another reason (besides the cover) why I read PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER, and that's because it's the February/March pick for the SheKnows Book Club. I am very excited that I am going to be one of the bloggers who contribute to this awesome book club; and if their first pick is any indication, it's going to be a great book club! If you’re interested in learning more about the book and the SheKnows book club, you can check out this announcement post. You can also participate in the discussion at the end of March which will take place on the SheKnows discussion boards.

At this point in my life, I am finding that I really enjoy "Mom-Lit" books; and PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER was no exception. This novel was very entertaining and I couldn't put it down. What did surprise me a little bit was that this book actually touched upon some serious issues that many women face today. I was expecting this book to be about a woman who gets humiliated when her husband leaves her for a famous actress, so I was ready for the parts of the story about infidelity, divorce, and even single parenting. However, I was encouraged to see that the author also chose to have Alice deal with other very real issues such as her mother's Alzheimer's. In addition, Alice had to make decisions about her career, her past, and eventually her future in dating. There was a lot more substance to this book than I was expecting.

Alice was a wonderful character in so many ways. She was a survivor and still managed to keep a sense of humor throughout even the most trying of times. I really enjoyed seeing how her character evolved throughout the story; and I liked how she created a support network for herself and her daughter. Alice became friends with many women with whom she didn't think she had anything in common. I loved how she learned the lesson that appearances can be deceiving, and what's really important is what's inside a person.

I found myself laughing a lot while I read PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER, especially the scenes between Alice and her daughter Gabby. Ms. Zutell capture the essence of a precocious five year old girl perfectly! But I also loved Alice and her wry sense of humor. She had thoughts and feelings that I found to be very real (and very honest) about her husband and his girlfriend. And I loved how she tried to keep things inside for Gabby's benefit, but a few very funny comments managed to leak out.

Despite the humor in this book, PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER also managed to touch my heart deeply. Of course, it's every woman's nightmare to be left for another woman. However, I think I was more affected by the mother-daughter relationships portrayed in this book. Not only did I relate to Alice's and Gabby's relationship, but I also found myself touched by the relationship between Alice and her mother. When Alice's mother gets kicked out of a nursing home because she begins to swear uncontrollably, Alice decides to take her in and care for her in the last few years of her life. It's a huge decision that required a lot of sacrifice on Alice's part and it's one that so many of us have to face as our parents get older.

PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER is Irene Zutell's debut novel, but she has been a journalist for many major papers and magazines. I think she's off to a very promising career as an author, and I can't wait to see what else she has in the works. I thought her writing style was very easy-to-read and her characters were very well-developed; and I loved how she managed to incorporate the fairy tale and princess themes throughout the novel.

I am really looking forward to talking about this book with others who have read it (as well as the author!) because I think PIECES OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER was a very entertaining read. I do think it is a great book club pick (and a timely one at that) because many women will relate in some way to the characters in the story. I couldn't find a reading guide for this novel, but I don't think one is necessary. There are a lot of topics for discussion including trust, infidelity, starting over, single parenting, female friendships, mother/daughter relationships, etc.

Thanks to SheKnows Book Club for sending me a copy of this novel.


Allie said...

Wow! This sounds wonderful! Putting it on my list!

bermudaonion said...

It sounds like there's a lot going on in this one. It's tough being the "sandwich generation" - trying to care for your parents and your kids at the same time - and I imagine it's even tougher as a single parent. Great review!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This is totally a book I would pick up and read because of the adorable cover

Anonymous said...

I definitely want to read this one. Lovely cover.

Anonymous said...

This book sounds great! Adding it to my ever-growing TBR pile...

Beth F said...

Another review I'll come back to next week -- I need to get reading!