Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Messy Lives of Book People

The Messy Lives of Book People
  The Messy Lives of Book People
Author:  Phaedra Patrick
Publication Information:  Park Row. 2022. 336 pages.
ISBN:  0778333175 / 978-0778333173

Book Source:  I received this book through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Liv Green wore her polishing cloth draped over her arm in the same proud way a maitre d' might wear a napkin."

Favorite Quote:  "If stories didn't exist the way you wanted them, you had to create your own."

A bookcase on the cover. A book about life. A book about book people. I was sold based on the cover and title alone. A Cinderella heroine. A reclusive author. A disappearance. An opportunity to step into someone else's life and live a dream. A book about writing a book. The description pulls me in further.

Olivia "Liv" Green is a forty-something year old mother of two. She and her husband Jack work hard to make a good life for their two children. The "messy lives" in this book are literal and figurative. Liv spends much of her life caring for and picking up after her family; much of her effort appears to go unnoticed and unappreciated. Liv's job is as a cleaner of homes and office spaces. She literally spends her life cleaning up other people's messes.

Her life sometimes feels a mess because Liv had (has?) dreams of things beyond. She gives those dreams some outlet as she cleans for renowned, reclusive author Essie Starling. Liv is a fan. Essie's books and her main character - Georgia Rory - have provide a respite and an escape in Liv's life. The books have brought comfort and adventure.

Then, Essie dies! Liv is asked to step into Essie's shoes and finish her last book! Why? Who was Essie? Who is Liv? Can she do this? Should she? Can she honor what Georgia Rory has meant to her? How is the secret to be kept?

All these questions take the book in the direction you would expect. The story is sweet and leaves me smiling. The story of a middle aged woman whose husband and kids take her for granted all of a sudden has a secret life that allows her to step away from all of that has been done before but nevertheless proves entertaining. I can relate to the absolute and complete love for family and yet the need for something more.

The book proves to be a middle age version for coming of age story - a journey of self discovery that allows family paradigms to be reinvented and reminds us that dreams are always possible. Other truisms the book finds are about seeing our lives through new eyes - sometimes it is our perspective that needs to shift to create change in our lives. Sometimes, someone else's belief in us can teach us to believe in ourselves.

While somewhat far-fetched and neatly packaged at the end, the book is a lighthearted, easy read.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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