24 July 2008

Dearest Dorothy, If Not Now, When? Charlene Ann Baumich

Dearest Dorothy, If Not Now, When? Charlene Ann Baumich. Rose coloured glasses living in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere USA. Everyone seems to be super nice; except the ones that aren't. Some good bits of reality; but too 'cozy' for my taste.

I have some time on my hands, so maybe this is as good a time as any to catch up on some reviews - before I start the next lot of books borrowed yesterday. I'll start with Dorothy because her lovely author posted a comment on my blog :-)

When I was typing up the brief notes yesterday this book caused me some difficulties. Just how to describe it. Or more accurately describe how I interpreted the characters (always my primary concern in reading) and the plot.

Let's start with the plot. This is (I think) book six in a series about Dorothy. Dorothy is an older lady living in a small town somewhere in the USA. (My USA geography's not too hot.) In this book Katie, a young professional, who has obviously moved back to the town in previous books, is working to open up a mini-mall. Her vision is to provide economic stimulus for the town. Like many small towns, the world over, Partonville is losing residents and income and becoming an unviable place to live and work.

Mixed up with this mini-mall is the upcoming mayoral election. The tie-in is that one candidate is vehemently opposed to the mall and that seems to be his main platform - getting the mall stopped.

In between this main story the book flits between other town characters - Katie's teenage son, an older couple who are dating, Dorothy's son, who is also moving back to town, and a few others.

And the characters. This is actually where some of my difficulties in describing the book begin. My overall impression of the characters is that they are all Super Sally Saints (except for the 'baddies' who are right proper baddies). And yet, when I stop to think about individual characters they all have their issues and problems. The teenage son who is obsessed with sex (thinking about it at any rate); the elderly spinster coming to terms with childhood abuse; the owners of the motel who face financial issues.

I think maybe the problem is two fold. If I had read the previous books I would probably have a better handle on each of the characters. I would have more understanding of their development (as people). Secondly, the book focuses on a lot of different stories, all part of the main story, all tied in; but still a lot of different stories. This means that issues are raised but not really explored in any great detail. I think that's what leads me to feel a sense of superficialness (is that a word?)

In some ways this is very similar to Rebecca Shaw's village series. It even has that "English" feel to it. The difference I think is that Shaw picks a central story, and writes almost exclusively to that story. You really only meet the other residents of the village when they intersect with the main story line. Baumich's approach is more of the TV series style - with several stories happening at once with some level of interconnection between them.

So, here I am at the end of a lengthy review and I still can't pinpoint why it is this book didn't really push my buttons. Still, I'm tempted to find the earlier books in the series. I give the book a 5 - I wouldn't mind finding other books by this author.

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