Book: Beatrice Munson
Genre: Chick Lit / Contemporary Fiction / Women’s Fiction
Author: Lorena Bathey
The cover is quite simple and gives an impression of a hand-made drawing. Though it makes sense after reading the story, it definitely has room for improvement. I like the whole concept but maybe bright colors would have made it more attractive and eye-catching.
This is a story about Marissa Lyons, a divorced woman in her forties with two kids, which made me think that why is the book named after some other character? Well, I found out soon as we get introduced to Beatrice in the first chapter. In the opening scene, we see Marissa spying on one of her neighbours who have just moved in. This peculiar neighbour is, Beatrice Munson: smart, beautiful blonde and her high-school arch enemy. Why she hates Beatrice so much? Because in high-school, she had a crush on this cute guy named Jeffery, but he chose to date Beatrice instead of her. Hang on, let me tell you that it was not Beatrice’s fault, nor was she “mean” to our "insecure" heroine in any way.
Anyways, let’s move on to what happens next. Years later, she still holds that grudge against Beatrice and fears that she will steal every one’s attention due to her impressive personality and beautiful looks. With those negative thoughts and just a smidgen of self-esteem, she bakes some delicious cupcakes (her mom’s favourite recipe) which is just a great excuse to meet her and find out why she has landed in her neighbourhood and more importantly, in her life again.
Soon, we are surprised to see that Marissa has not only forgotten about her hatred, she is also totally captivated by Beatrice’s charm. Looks like, Beatrice has moved her magic wand and Marissa is under the spell as she finds her an epitome of all-good. Is that because Beatrice’s crazy, adventurous and exciting life, makes her feel small in front of her? Does she envy her for being so passionate and daring and wishes secretly that she could be like her and follow her dreams? Read the book to find out!
This book sucked me right in with its warmth, passion and high dosage of good humour, along with ample twists and turns to keep me hooked from first chapter till the very last pages. The characters are drawn in such a way that you feel like they are part of your neighbourhood and like your friends with whom you can share your secrets and feel comfortable. In spite of their faults, they are well-rounded, realistic, relatable and extremely adorable.
The writer has kept a very candid and frank style throughout the story which made me feel as if I was reading someone’s private diary, written without inhibitions and with utter honesty. Though this book is Lorena’s first novel, she is successful in involving the reader into her fictional world of memorable characters so much that the readers lose track of the real world around them. I think this speaks volume of her calibre as a writer.
The book is aptly named after Beatrice whose character is like some sort of “guru” or a “revolutionary spiritual leader” who has the power to convince people and bring a positive change in their lives. She makes things "happen" rather than just sitting and dreaming about them. She infuses this spirit in the whole neighbourhood with her presence and ideas.
There is Marissa, who lacks confidence and guts. She does not want to take charge of her life but soon, she finds herself acting on her long-lost passion of photography by opening a studio and joining a newspaper as a journalist. Soon, all the ladies of Vista Heights: Andrea, Lily, Deidre get spontaneous and the whole neighbourhood catches “Beatrice fever”. They start embracing opportunities lying in front of them, thus explore and widen their horizon.
The book is a joy-ride full of excitement and nervous energy. It reminded me of Katy Perry’s upbeat song, “Firework”! There is lot of activity going on, which keeps the story fast-paced. It also delves into the various aspects of divorce, marriage, flirtations, friendships and much more but in such a way that it does not burden the reader; instead it is heart-warming and enlightening. There are laugh-out-loud funny scenes, especially the one with drag queen parties. I was stumped by Lola Rau’s character and wanted to read more and more of her. There is a lot of mention of yummy food, which made me hungry, looks like Lorena is fond of tasty treats! *smiles*
Apart from fun surprises, there is also a rape scene. But it has been written in a very mature way and it did not make me gag, so I think the writer pulled it off neatly. I loved this book as the story reached a satisfying climax and gave many underlying messages as well. Well done Lorena! I would love to read more of Lorena’s work in future too. Highly recommended!
Review Girl Rating: 9.5/10