Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: The Accidental Book Club

Summary: Jean Vison never expected to run a book club, until her life took an unexpected turn. Now, with Jean’s husband gone, what began as an off-the-cuff idea has grown into a group of six women who meet the second Tuesday of every month for a potluck supper, for wine and laughter—and for books.

There’s Loretta, who deals with the lack of intimacy in her marriage by diving into erotic novels. Dorothy, whose ruffian sons are a never-ending source of stress. May entertains the group with her outrageous dating stories, while Mitzi finds something political to rant about in every book—including Loretta’s trashy romances. Even Janet, with her mousy shyness and constant blush, has helped Jean rediscover the joy in life.

So when Jean’s family starts unraveling again—her daughter forced into rehab and her troubled teen granddaughter, Bailey, coming to live with her in the interim—she turns to the book club for comfort and support. And, together, they all, even Bailey, discover that family is what you make of it, especially the family you choose… -- New American Library

Kathy (aka Bermudaonion) sent me a copy of THE ACCIDENTAL BOOK CLUB by Jennifer Scott. She absolutely loved this novel and I was so glad that she wanted to share it with me. This book managed to make her laugh and cry; and naturally, any book that meant that much to my friend was one that I wanted to read.

THE ACCIDENTAL BOOK CLUB tells the story of Jean Vison, a recently widowed woman who is a little lost after losing her husband. She and five of her friends recently started a book club on the second Tuesday of each month (coincidentally the same day that my group meets!), and Jean has found some comfort in discussing books and visiting with these women.

Like most book clubs, these woman all bring something a little different to the group. Loretta enjoys erotic novels because her marriage is lacking a bit in that department, while Dorothy is trying to deal with her almost juvenile delinquent sons. May shares her funny experiences with her dates, Mitzi is all about turning every conversation into politics, and Janet is the shy one. Jean has discovered that her evenings with these women bring her some joy and help her to start the healing process.

And then at book club one evening, Jean receives a call from her son-in-law and her world is rocked. Her daughter has been hospitalized with alcohol poisoning and needs to enter rehab. Jean's granddaughter Bailey is a very troubled teen -- both angry and lashing out against her parents, and her son-in-law can no longer manage her. While Jean isn't close to Bailey, she still decides to take her in.

Needless to say, Bailey changes Jean's life in major ways; and at first, they aren't good ones. She's difficult and almost abusive to Jean, and she even manages to ruin some book club meetings. Jean finds that the women in her book club mean more to her than ever as she tries to help both her daughter and Bailey.

I really enjoyed THE ACCIDENTAL BOOK CLUB. It was definitely everything Kathy promised it to be. It was both funny and very sad, and I loved so many of the messages in the novel. I admit that the initial appeal of the book for me was the words "book club" in the title, but I soon discovered that Jean was a wonderful character, and I quickly became caught up in her life. I know Jean desperately missed her husband and felt lost without him; however, I saw her as an incredibly strong woman who just continued to give love and support to her family. I actually admired her courage because, goodness knows, I wouldn't have been able to handle Bailey for five minutes.

Kathy was also correct in saying that this book really made her "feel." I felt as if the author did a great job of making Jean and the rest of the women in the club real. I loved that each woman was dealing with something whether it be marriage or parenting problems or another secret, and it was even more heartwarming to find that these woman all found their strength through the friendships they gained as part of book club. As a member of an eleven year book club, I've forged some wonderful friendships which I treasure. I know I could ask any one of them for something and they'd all bend over backwards to help. I don't take for granted how special that is.

In addition, my heart just broke for both Jean and Bailey. Both were victims to things in their life they couldn't control, and while they handled things very differently, they were both obviously in pain. Bailey was truly miserable and hard to like; however, I could tell that she was just crying out for attention because of her horrible home life. I was so glad that Bailey realized that her grandmother loved her... no matter what, and I loved seeing how she slowly came to accept this love and eventually embrace it.

So many of the themes in THE ACCIDENTAL BOOK CLUB warmed my heart. As a result, I think many book clubs would enjoy discussing this book. There is a reading guide with eleven good questions included in the back of the book along with a conversation with Ms. Scott. Some of the themes you might want to explore include alcoholism, friendship, anger, healing, grief, taking responsibility for one's actions, love, trust, blame, guilt, books, and second chances.

THE ACCIDENTAL BOOK CLUB is a story that will both entertain you and warm your heart. Highly recommended.

Thanks to Kathy (aka Bermudaonion) for sending me a copy of this novel.


bermudaonion said...

I'm so glad to see you loved this book too! It really spoke to me.

Heidi’sbooks said...

Sounds like it has all the elements of a good story. Do you have to be in a sad mood to read it?

Julie P. said...

I don't think so Heidi! It's like comfort food. It might taste better if you "need" it but you will still enjoy it when you are happy!

Beth F said...

Oh wow. Between the two of you, I think I'd better reconsider this. I was going to pass - now I want to read it.