Sunday, October 4, 2009

Review - Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Goudge

Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Goudge
336 p, Vanguard Press, ISBN: 1593155344

Synopsis - Sisters Lindsay and Kerrie Ann have known hardship from an early age. Without guidance from their neglectful mother, their only aid came from an unlikely source, a retired exotic dancer by the name of Miss Honi Love. When the girls’ mother was sent to prison, Miss Honi tried unsuccessfully to save them from being separated and sent into foster care.

Thirty years later, Lindsay is still trying to reconnect with her sister. The owner of a bookstore in the sleepy California seaside town of Blue Moon Bay, she was lucky enough to have been adopted by a loving couple. Unbeknownst to her, Kerrie Ann has suffered a very different life. Bounced from one foster home to the next, she ran away as a teenager before becoming a drug-addicted single mother. Now, newly sober, Kerrie Ann is fighting to regain custody of the little girl who was taken from her.

Neither sister’s expectations are met when they’re finally reunited. But as the two sisters engage in the fiercest battles of their lives, they are at last drawn together despite their differences, restoring belief in the unshakable bond of family.

My Thoughts - More character driven than plot, I was swept away by the drama that is Eileen Goudge's latest book, Once in a Blue Moon. Whether describing the sun baked parking lot of a seedy motel, a person lost in thoughts walking along a beautiful wind-swept beach or people savoring a luscious hazelnut torte, the author's words are so evocative as to make the readers feel they're right there experiencing that atmosphere and living those feelings. And that's what held me spellbound as I devoured the pages of this 336 page hardcover.

After reading the book, readers will surely find it difficult to pinpoint which of the two sisters they identified more with, for truly speaking there's a Valerie and a Kerrie Ann in each of us. Steadfast Valerie hides a surprising passion underneath her drab exterior while Kerrie Ann conceals her softness under her brazen clothes and scornful behavior. The story captures how, in the case of these two sisters, nurture wins over nature. They're so different, but in the end love, sisterly love, triumphs all obstacles.

But sisterly love isn't all this book focuses on. There's also romantic love and motherly love. And in the form of the enjoyable and eccentric Miss Honi Love, another kind of love is highlighted, the kind that comes out of pure caring and selflessness. An important message this book highlights is how love shouldn't be taken for granted, but rather it's a reward that comes out of forgiveness and a willingness to work for it.

The other important aspect this book focuses on is addiction and recovery. Through Kerrie Ann and others, readers get to see not only the circumstances behind addiction (be it drugs, alcohol, sex etc) but also what an uphill battle it is to overcome it. And the toll it takes not just on the person undergoing it but also to those around them. Kerrie Ann is inspired to kick her habit from the loss of her daughter and a single-minded determination to get her back, but others aren't so lucky. Through the story readers are shown how easy it is to slip back into bad habits and how very few like Kerrie Ann are able to find the inner strength to overcome it.

There are some other aspects of this novel I really liked, which I'll briefly mention - Ollie and Kerrie Ann's unlikely romance, Lindsay's bookstore (oh, how I'd love to visit it!), the town of Blue Moon and of course, the battle Lindsay wages to keep her store and her home against a corporation determined to build a resort there.

Like I said before, this is a character-driven and not a plot driven story. As such, the overall story, its progress and ending are all easy to guess at. But it's the journey of how all this happens, how the characters interact, fight and love, how true it all seems to real life - that's the magic behind this book.

The writing, in this case, makes all the difference.

I received this book for review from One2One Network and by writing this review, was entered into a giveaway. This, however, did not (has not and will not) influence my review (ever).
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  1. I like your reviews and I appreciate them too. May I leave a link..for yourself and everyone? If so, thanks. Now go and enter:

    dorcontest at gmail dot com

  2. Been looking forward to Eileen Goudge's next novel and I know this one will draw me in emotionally!

  3. I've read several reviews about this book and they all have been good.

    I look forward in reading it.

    Tracey D

  4. Shawna L

    I always love book about long lost Sisters so this book lured me in. Thanks for the review I have been wanting to read something from this Author but wasn't sure. But I must say after your review I know now I really do need & want to read this amazing book & more from this writer ~!!!!