"The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." — Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Friday, June 18, 2010

Girls of Summer by Barbara Bretton

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Summary: Dr. Ellen Markowitz has a steamy one-night stand with her co-worker. Her life is further disrupted by the appearance of her wild half-sister.

OB-GYN Ellen Markowitz has a steamy one-night stand with her co-worker, Dr. Hall Talbot. Their small Maine town is further shocked by the appearance of Ellen’s wild half-sister, Dierdre.

Terrible book. A 35-year-old OB-GYN should not get pregnant from an unprotected one night stand with a fellow OB-GYN. But what upsets Dr. Ellen O’Brien Markowitz is not that she slept with her boss, but that he called out another woman’s name at, uh, his moment of release. So most of the book is Hall Talbot, a thrice-divorced doctor with four kids, realizing that he really doesn’t love married Annie after all, even though he’s fantasized about her for 10 years (marrying and having children with other women throughout his unrequited crush). Then he has to convince Ellen, who he really now adores, that his slip of the tongue was not a Freudian slip, but something else.

Ellen is dealing with her own messy family problems. And they are messy. Her half-sister Deirdre shows up, planning to leave her oversized dog with Ellen while Deirdre takes a harping job. (Too complicated to explain). But Deirdre and Ellen share a father and Ellen’s step-father married Ellen’s mother and raised Ellen as his own. All that changed after Ellen’s mother’s died and Deirdre’s father decided he had to be in Ellen’s life. So Ellen finds out she has two sisters and the man who raised her as a father wasn’t really her father and never really loved her step-father because she was still pining for Billy, Ellen’s biological father. Messy, messy, messy.

And the writing was terrible. Let me quote a scene:
“The glass shattered in his hand in a spray of water and glittering shards.”
“The ragged edge of sorrow was blunted by something else, a tidal pull of longing that wrapped itself around her and wouldn’t let go.”
“Then, because there was nothing else they could do, no other way to postpone the inevitable, he swept her up into his arms an carried her into the bedroom where he gently stripped away her clothes and began to make love to her body and soul.”
This book was too full. There was just too much going on for the characters in the book. Deirdre and Ellens’ father is dying of cancer; Hall's best friend Susan decides that she wants him, even though she’s married with kids and sets out to seduce him; Deirdre has a fling with Scott the Mechanic, who is trying to fix her car; and Ellen just bought a house. Just too much. Look, I get that life is messy and things often happen simultaneously, but I felt like the author tried to cram three inadequate books into one and make it work.

Girls of Summer? Who calls 35-year old women “Girls?” Really? And an OB-Gyn who doesn’t use birth control and gets pregnant from that single time and then has a crisis pregnancy and then delivers a healthy baby girl? Puh-leeze. This book was just ridiculous.

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