As Good As It Got by Isabel Sharpe
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
1 star — wallbanger, don’t waste your time
2 stars — mildly interesting but still flawed
3 stars — average
4 stars — good read
5 stars — excellent
I was looking for a thoughtful read to come down after my marathon race to deadline and I found this book, which had been in my TBR (To Be Read) since last year’s RWA National conference in Washington D.C. As a fan of Isabel Sharpe, I was happy to dig in and I can tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.
The Blurb: Ann Redding has taken every lousy thing life has thrown at her and handled it very well, thank you very much. All she wants is to get her life back on track … but that won’t happen until she makes her worried family and friends back off by spending two weeks at Camp Kinsonu, a retreat for suddenly single women. Now she’s stuck sitting around a campfire, singing “I Am Woman” with a bunch of sandal-clad, makeup-boycotting women. If she doesn’t get out of there soon, they’ll be sizing her for Birkenstocks.
Kinsonu, an idyllic retreat on the coast of Maine, is supposed to be a place for new hope and new beginnings. But Ann doesn’t belong in an estrogen Eden, she belongs in a corporate boardroom. Still, the camp has its compensations — she’s grudgingly befriended some other “inmates,” including Cindy, who honestly believes she’s just killing time until her serial-cheating husband comes crawling back. And Martha, shy, overweight, and mysteriously silent about the man she’s there to get over.
Maybe it was fate that brought them together at Camp Kinsonu, maybe just bad luck. But three strangers are about to bond on an adventure they didn’t ask for — and discover that lives they thought were as good as it got could suddenly get a lot better.
My Take: This is a wonderful book that plumbs the emotional complexities of three women while they grieve through individual tragedies. Women are fascinating creatures with an amazing capacity for growth, change, and adaptation through personal pain. I loved the journey of this book. Each character comes to quiet — albeit reluctant — truths about their lives and their loved ones and the transformation is realistic and painful. Yet, even as the characters grieve openly and honestly, there is laughter, too. What is more enjoyable than a book that can, not only push you down, but lift you as well? Bottom line, it’s a very thoughtful read filled with parallels many women can identify with, though Sharpe pulls no punches and sometimes the truth of the characters’ journey will smack too close to home for some. My only complaint — and it’s so minor I hesitate to even mention it — is I wanted to see more of a romantic connection. However, this is not a romance, it’s women’s fiction, so I knew going into it that a happily ever after wasn’t likely. Even so, it’s a great read and one I highly recommend.
Kimberly Van Meter, romance novelist, offers occasional reviews (her opinion) on current fiction-length, traditionally published novels that catch her fancy.