Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Newport Ladies Book Club: Olivia by Julie Wright Give Away

I'm going to give away this book by random drawing on March 28th. Usually, I make you work for a give away in some fashion by sending me recipes but it's spring break time and we could all use a good read while we lounge on the beach, cruise chair pool side, or watch the freak snowstorm swirling outside your window. So, here's the deal. Blog or Facebook or both about my give away and put your total in the comments below (max of 2 as you can see). Honor system. It's spring break. I'm not up for checking all the links!   

The Robbins household looks perfect from the outside: no dust, no stains, no wrinkles. Yet a glimpse into its heart reveals no laughter, no closeness, no joy. Olivia thinks that if she keeps everything tidy and serves delicious meals on time, family life is bound to get better. But when her husband, Nick, misses their anniversary, she realizes no amount of domestic success will compensate for failure in their marriage, or for her own failure to develop her identity, always busy as a mother, wife, and neighbor, she has forgotten how to be a unique and vibrant individual. Determined to make a change, Olivia joins a local book club, where she nurtures new friendships and explores new ideas. But her growing confidence falters when Nick declares his independence, and while her new friends lovingly encircle her with support, only Olivia can reach into the depths of her fledgling self to find the faith, hope, and love her troubled family needs.

This is the first book I've read of this collection. I say collection instead of series because the idea behind The Newport Ladies books is that we read the same story but from a different character's point of view. The other books available in this collection are:
Daisy by Josi Kilpack
Paige by Annette Lyon
Athena by Heather Moore which is not published yet but due out before the end of the year if my math according to their website is right. You can link to it here:

So, I can totally get behind Olivia. A mother of four who runs her house in order and has lost herself amidst the shuffle of cleaning, cooking, driving and being a wife to a distant husband (and when I say distant it doesn't mean miles). Often a person can be in the next room or even the same room and not be present or engaged in what is happening in the family around them. She is genuinely a helpful person who is struggling to keep her family together without understanding why it is falling apart in the first place. Plus, she has the additional challenge of being a step-mother and having a mother-in-law who thinks the first wife was the best thing that ever happened to her son and Olivia is simply not in the same league. Well, as you go through the book and Olivia's trials and discoveries I liked the fact that Olivia and The Ex are like Day and Night or rather Nightmare. Being from a blended family I can appreciate the intricate negotiating/balancing that goes on with being the second wife and family.

Lost in her own life Olivia makes a bold decision to join a book club of strangers who unwittingly help her become the main character in her life instead of the secondary one she has been the past few years. Doing something for herself gives Olivia power. I'm a big believer that if a woman or mother doesn't have something that's her own separate from the family, she will get lost and wonder what happened to her former independent capable self.

Only two things bothered me in this well written book. Neither of which are deal breakers.
First: the overuse of shine in the eyes to indicate tears. At first I thought it was a cute character description used by Olivia that came from her upbringing, but as the book progressed it kept appearing. It was just something I noticed.
Second: the description of the book indicates that the book club members support her through a difficult time, except that she never tells any of them what is going on. All their support is given unknowingly and I rather wished she had fessed up to at least one of them so there could be some overt support.

I'm curious how the other books read once you've read one. Anyone have a take on that? Anyone read more than one of this collection? Does it hold your attention or does it lose some of it's allure when you already knowing what's coming?

Anyone have a recommendation for a good women's empowerment collection/series?


  1. Hi, Lisa. I haven't read the others, but I'm anxious to read this! Great review!

  2. They both sound like interesting reads.... Enter 1 for myself... since I don't blog. Alysia

  3. I've read the rest and liked them all. Since they're written by different authors, there will be different crutch phrases, perhaps, but not the same "shine." As I said, I enjoyed them. I am posting a link on FB about the giveaway.

  4. I've read the series and found it enjoyable to read about the lives of these characters as seen through their own eyes as well as the viewpoints of the other book club members. That perspective really gives each book a unique flavor!