First the book description.
With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.
Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is their marriages.
With their personal lives in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.
And my review:
I am always a little apprehensive when someone I know offers me a book for a review.
I've known Ane Mulligan for years and she has been a staple and mentor in my writing and blogging journey.
Ane's new book Chapel Springs Revival is a long time coming. Mulligan has worked the craft and networks involved in writing. If anyone deserves to be published just because she has given so much to other writers it would be Ane.
But Mulligan isn't just a good writing citizen, she's a good writer with stories to tell that only she can.
Ane introduces us to Claire and Patsy and their lives in a sleepy little village. But even sleepy villages often have underlying currents and pleasant, tranquil settings sometimes need a little shot of passion and life. Chapel Springs is exactly there, and Patsy and Claire are treading in marital currents.
Both women discover that their long marriages have begun to look a lot like the formerly charming town square. Used-to-be, lackluster, dull and barely functional. The ladies, along with some friends and frenemies, set out to refurbish pretty much everything.
Claire, unfortunately, has a special knack for getting into hot water, so as the clean-up and self-improvement campaigns begin, Claire finds herself getting a little too immersed into the projects. My visual of Claire while reading about her antics is a mental merge of Lucille Ball in a panic, Tomb Raider's Lora Croft on a mission, and Mrs. Doubtfire and Mr. Mom on their learning curves. Let's just say that if something could go wrong and Claire is there it will go wrong in the worst way. My favorite scene in the book is at the end when she innocently has a mishap that lands her in an all dressed-up-and-no-way-out pickle.
This story is sweet escapism but there are teaching elements that I appreciated as well. After all, I'm at a certain age and been married for a long while and have struggled with some of the same concerns discussed by Patsy and Claire. I mean, reality isn't a romance novel, it's a whole lot more like working late, worrying about family members and different interests most of the time. So while I loved the escapism and the fact that the book is very well written, I also appreciated the depth and realistic issues faced by the characters.
I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.