Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Rejected Writers' Book Club (Southlea Bay #1), by Suzanne Kelman (author), Tanya Eby (narrator)

Brilliance Audio, March 2016 (original publication October 2014)

This sounded like such a promising book.

Unfortunately, Our Protagonist, Janet Johnson, a librarian in Southlea Bay, Oregon, where she and her husband have lived for the last five years, is just a bit hard for me to like. It has not yet occurred to her that, really, she's a bit of a snob. Even at the end, when she has discovered the true grit and assorted other positive qualities of the ladies of the Rejected Writers' Book Club, she seems more mildly annoyed than anything else that these have become her local circle for friends.

Let's note in passing that after five years, these are the first friends she's made on the island.

The Rejected Writers enjoy writing, and they have been unable to produce anything publishable. Having concluded that they never really will, they've made a virtue of necessity. They collect rejection letters, and put some money into a pot, for a celebration that they'll hold when they have five hundred total rejection letters. This might seem just silly, but they're enjoying their hobby. Sadly, when Janet is first pulled into their circle, what she sees is a collection of the ridiculous--a fat woman, a stick-like woman, a waif-like innocent, a church lady, and an aging hippy, among others. She can see no redeeming features even though Doris, the fat one, quickly demonstrates that she's a truly fantastic cook.

Janet, I'm sad to say, is the one that, when her daughter calls, clearly very upset, to tell her that no, she is not all right and that she is pregnant, says, "Congratulations!" The call is interrupted by daughter Stacy vomiting, and when conversation resumes, Janet tells her congratulations again, and gets off the phone fairly quickly.

I wanted to smack her but good.

Anyway, the plot, and yes, there is one: The ladies are collecting rejection letters, but one of them, Doris, has received an acceptance letter. By the rules of the club, this should mean she's out. Even worse, she borrowed part of that story from some old notebooks her aunt left in the attic of the house where Doris and her mother still live. Doris had assumed that what she borrowed was fictional, but it turns out to be at least partly based on an episode in her mother's life, and if it's real, it's quite scandalous. As much as Doris didn't want her manuscript accepted for publication anyway, it's even worse if its publication is going to embarrass and distress her mother. The ladies, including Doris, want Janet's help in actually reaching the editor who has accepted her book, who is not responding to attempts to contact him. He's based in San Francisco, where Janet's daughter lives, and Janet, who doesn't fly, has with some effort been prevailed upon to drive down there to stay with her daughter while Stacy's husband is away for two weeks on business.

There is much silly and entertaining activity on the road trip, and much excitement, and of course things get even stranger when they reach San Francisco.

I don't really know what to say. I think we are supposed to like Janet, and it is true that she's not truly an awful person; just a bit snobby, particular, and rigid.

I didn't stop listening, and I certainly could have. Even through Janet's eyes, the Rejected Writers can be seen to be an interesting group of ladies, with bigger hearts than is at first apparent.

Yet I really can't see myself reading another in the series.

Not recommended.

I bought this audiobook.