Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Three Little Women

'Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough'
Author: Ruth Pennebaker

Format: Paperback
Published: Berkeley Trade; Jan. 2011
Pages: 320
Genre: Literary fiction; Women's fiction; Mother-daughter
Rating: B
Source: TLC Book Tours

Synopsis: Joanie Pilcher, nearing 50 and recently divorced, is firmly entrenched in the sandwich generation. Working at a job she hates in an ad agency, she’s doing her best with her moody 15-year-old daughter, Caroline, and her depressed 77-year-old widowed mother, Ivy, who moved in six months earlier after her stock portfolio tanked. When Joanie’s ex calls to tell her that his much-younger live-in girlfriend is pregnant, it seems a final straw. Meanwhile, Caroline suffers typical teenage angst, hating her life, discovering pot, and mooning over handsome Henry in her Spanish class, and Ivy—keenly missing her old home and friends—tries to fill her days with Goggling on the Internet, with a little shoplifting on the side. Pennebaker brings the realism of her young adult novels to this debut adult novel, creating characters—both major and minor—who elicit sympathy and with whom readers can identify. Title and promotional blurbs aside, this is less lighthearted chick lit than a fairly grim look at life, with a welcome upbeat turn at the end. 

My Take: I love novels about women. Women and relationships. Mother - daughter relationships in particular. Being a daughter they are easy for me to relate to and so it's something that I like to read about, simple as that. Being a week in which I was incredibly tired, this was a great book to turn to. Not because it was necessarily a simple subject matter but because it was comforting in that I new the general path it would take and I liked that. It was something I could, well relate too.

The novel centers around Joanie, a 50 year old who should have her life all together and figured out, but as we all know things don't always happen the way we've planned. Newly divorced, her life has been turned on its axis. It's not that her husband has left her for someone younger, he just wasn't in love with her anymore (but now of course he has moved on and it is, inevitably, with someone much younger!).

Joanie and her ex-husband have a teenage daughter, Caroline. As all good, teenage females are, she is angsty and having a hard time finding her way in the world now that her parents are newly divorced. I felt for Caroline. She doesn't have a lot of friends and has a difficult time communicating with others, often tripping up in situations that are new and unusual. Who can't relate to that? Don't get me wrong, she brings a lot of craziness onto herself, but what teenager doesn't.

Finally we have Ivy, the grandmother/mother of these two women. She is in her 80s and has had to move in with Joanie after having lost all of her retirement money in the recent economic crisis. Ivy is frustrated with her new situation and is taking it out on Joanie. Often difficult to read, their relationship is very real and any adult female could probably relate to this and roll their eyes at these two women's constant bickering. You know where they are both coming from, but it doesn't make it easier.

For me, I only had one fault and it was a grinding one. While I loved the three central characters, Joanie's ex-husband's new fiancee played a role in how they all got along. Don't get me wrong, she had her flaws but when she got pregnant, Joanie kept referring to how a 30 year old woman was too young to have a baby and wouldn't know what she was doing. As someone who is (cough) almost 30 I took offense to that. If you aren't supposed to have a baby when you are nearing 30, when are you old enough to have a baby? When you are too old to even reproduce? I can understand that Joanie resented this woman but she had her 15 year old daughter, you do the math. She is 50 and was clearly the same age when she was pregnant. Why so many comments about her being too young? It got under my skin.

However, it was a minor part of the story and should not prevent anyone from reading it who enjoys this genre.

Take a look at this great book trailer to give you even more of an idea of how good it is!:

Cover Lust: I love the bold colors and think it's really cute! You know birds are hot, hot, hot right now in the design industry :)

For other opinions about this book, here's the full TLC tour schedule:

Monday, January 17th: Debbie’s Book Bag
Tuesday, January 18th: Proud Book Nerd
Thursday, January 20th: Love to Read for Fun
Monday, January 24th: Hospitable Pursuits
Tuesday, January 25th: Scraps of Life
Wednesday, January 26th: Reviews from the Heart
Thursday, January 27th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Friday, January 28th: A Bookish Way of Life
Monday, January 31st: Teresa’s Reading Corner
Tuesday, February 1st: Booksie’s Blog
Wednesday, February 2nd: BookNAround
Friday, February 4th: Life in the Thumb
Monday, February 7th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Tuesday, February 8th: The Book Chick
Thursday, February 10th: Romance Books Forum
Monday, February 14th: Bookworm’s Dinner
Tuesday, February 15th: Amused By Books
Wednesday, February 16th: Clever Girl Goes Blog


  1. This does sound like one I might enjoy; thanks for the great review.

  2. great review! sounds like something I would really like too.

  3. Sometimes knowing what to expect from a book is a great thing - you know it will give you just what you need at that particular time. I'm glad this was that kind of book for you. Thanks for being on the tour!

  4. I wish I had signed up for this one! I need to check it out right away. I will say that I'm sort of in the same camp as you about the thirty-year-old thing - I'm a tad older than that, but I didn't realize that there was some misguided perception that having a baby at 30 was much too young. That's odd!

  5. Yikes, I was 25 when I had my baby. Was I a baby having babies? This still sounds like one I want to read. It sounds really good.

  6. That is a bit weird, 30 too young, ok..anyway, still sounds like a good book.

    Nice review

  7. The book sounds good to me. I do think sometimes people (and characters) are obnoxious about things (like the age of a mother to be) because they're hurting.


Thanks for stopping by Amused By Books and taking the time to comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...