First line: One upon a time there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person.
The book in one sentence: Rebecca Davitch, widowed young is left to take care of a big family, feels like she "fell" into her life and her "What if's" turn out with a surprisingly simple answer.
Who would you recommend it to: Anyone who enjoys a thinking novel, or loves highly nuanced characters. Those who like chicklit (with a heavy dose of reality).
OK bits: I enjoyed the entire premise of the book, with Rebecca trying to figure out: "How on earth did I get like this? How? How did I become this person who's not really me?"
The characters are highly credible (the step-daughters are generally unlikable people) as are the dynamics within this large extended family. I did like the character of forgetful 100 year-old Poppy. I followed with bated breath the rekindling of romance (or what could-have-been) with Rebecca's first love Will Allenby.
That Rebecca is a "professional" party hostess was a nice twist. I actually looked forward to her little rhyming toasts which are scattered throughout.
Who would have thought that such trivial things could be so interesting and profound? I could relate to Rebecca's realizations as the book progressed. The small nuggets of wisdom may seem a little trite, but they sure hit home.
Boring bits: I initially balked at the cutesy names - Bek, Biddy, Nono, Min Foo, Poppy - are these people, or pets? Once I got over that, I was in love with this book.
Verdict: Don't we all think that the life-that-could-have-been is better than what we have? Need a reality check? Read this book and be amazed at Tyler's wonderful portrait of real life.
I like these phrases: Beck's unrelenting jollity (p. 270) , palindromic birthday (p. 272)
There is no true life. Your true life is the one you end up with, whatever it may be. You just do the best you can with what you've got.Links: http://thebookhaven.homestead.com/Z_Back_When_We_Were_Grownups.html