Ladies' Night by Mary Kay Andrews
St. Martin's Press
June 4, 2013; 464 Pages
Grace Stanton’s life as a rising media star and beloved lifestyle blogger takes a surprising turn when she catches her husband cheating and torpedoes his pricey sports car straight into the family swimming pool. Grace suddenly finds herself locked out of her palatial home, checking account, and even the blog she has worked so hard to develop in her signature style. Moving in with her widowed mother, who owns and lives above a rundown beach bar called The Sandbox, is less than ideal. So is attending court-mandated weekly "divorce recovery" therapy sessions with three other women and one man for whom betrayal seems to be the only commonality. When their “divorce coach” starts to act suspiciously, they decide to start having their own Wednesday "Ladies' Night" sessions at The Sandbox, and the unanticipated bonds that develop lead the members of the group to try and find closure in ways they never imagined. Can Grace figure out a new way home and discover how strong she needs to be to get there?
In her signature style Mary Kay Andrews tells Grace's story of betrayal, heartbreak and self-discovery with a blend of humor and emotion that keep the pages turning. Grace is a blogger, and when she spent hours taking picture after picture to get the perfect shot for her latest post I knew I was going to like her. The next indication came when she's confronting her husband Ben about his tryst with her young assistant J'Amiee (no, it's not Jamie). After catching them "together" in his car and listening to him stumble with excuses she says, "So you want me to believe you decided to have an impromptu, clothing optional business meeting in the middle of the night?" Hah! Of course! It's hard to imagine what I'd do in the same situation, but I'd like to think that I might have the guts to drive a $175,000 car into a pool!
Grace's world has been turned upside down. Nothing is the way she thought it was. She's not alone. Each of the members of her divorce group are going through the same thing. They are an unlikely group, and Wyatt (the lone male) seems the least able to fit in. During their weekly sessions with the loopy therapist and decompressing at the Sandbox, they begin to realize that while this isn't what they chose, it might turn out to be what they need.
Isn't that the way life goes? Working on this review got me thinking. Time goes by swiftly and we kind of wonder through. We may have had a plan, and even kept to it some, but the days add up fast! So we go along and think we're happy. We even think that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. And then something BIG happens. Something we didn't expect and we didn't plan. A divorce, loosing your job or the death of a loved one - that kind of big. Striped down to the bare bones, emotionally and financially it can go either way. You can throw in the towel and give up or you can take a good hard look at: what you've been doing; how you've been living; what really is important to you; how you've been treating the people around you and how you've been treating yourself. It's not easy and chances are you'll be surprised by what you find. Here's the good part. Once you're armed with all of this honest, no-nonsense, soul bearing information you get to use it. Now you can live the life you want - intentionally. For me that's what this book was about. The journey of self-discovery. Perhaps it's because I've been on my own journey for the past few years that I came away with this impression.
There are lots of things in Grace's life that I was able to identify with which made this an easy read for me. Even though they all are going through tough times there's plenty of comic relief. I'd say one of the things I liked most about the book is the cast characters. Their unique personalities help to make the story full. We also get to know everyone well enough so their stories matter, but not so much that their competing for the headline.
As a blogger I appreciate Grace's commitment to her blog and her readers. I understand the way she felt about taking on sponsors and eventually monetizing. I liked that through the grit, grime and physical labor of renovating the small cottage she reconnects with the things that originally inspired her to start blogging. I think the author really captured the essence of being a blogger!
The story line suffers some from being fairly predictable, however there are some surprising events that add a little zip. The biggest letdown is the relationship between Grace and Wyatt.
[SPOILER WARNING] I'm not going to go into detail, let me just say this: happily ever after doesn't have to include prince charming. I know that romance sells, but in this case it seems unnecessary and the epilog was too much for me. [END SPOILER]
Overall I enjoyed Ladies' Night and the good points by far outweigh the bad. Don't let my journey into self discovery dissuade you. This isn't a heavy book at all, in fact I'd say it easily fits the bill as a beach read! If you're a fan of Mary Kay's other titles (Deep Dish is my favorite), than I'm sure you'll enjoy this one too.
I received this book from St. Martin's Press in exchange for my honest review.
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