Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mid Life Crisis!

'Helen of Pasadena'
Author: Lian Dolan

Format: Paperback
Published: Prospect Park Books; Nov. 2010
Pages: 288
Genre: Chick-lit; Women's fiction
Rating: B
Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Synopsis: Helen Fairchild is leading a privileged Pasadena existence: married to a pillar of the community; raising a water polo-playing son destined for the most select high school; volunteering her time on the most fashionable committees. It only bothers Helen a tiny bit the she has never quite fit in with the proper Pasadena crowd, never finished that graduate degree in Classics, and never had that second baby. But the rigid rules of society in Pasadena appeal to Helen, the daughter of Oregon "fiber artists," even if she'll never be on the inside. And then along comes a Rose Parade float, killing her philandering husband and leaving Helen broke, out of her "forever' house and scrambling to salvage her once-rarefied existence. Enter Dr. Patrick O'Neill, noted archaeologist, excavator of Troy and wearer of nubby sweaters. A job as Dr. O'Neill's research assistant is the lifeline Helen needs to reinvent herself, both personally and professionally. Ancient mysteries to solve! Charity events to plan! School admissions advisors to charm! If Helen wasn't so distracted by her incredibly attractive boss, she might be able to pull off this new life. Helen's world widens to include a Hollywood star, a local gossip columnist, an old college nemesis, a high-powered Neutron Mom, an unforgiving school headmistress , the best Armenian real state agent in the biz, and, of course, the intriguing Patrick O'Neill. While uncovering secrets about ancient Troy alongside her archaeologist boss, Helen discovers something much more: a new sense of self and a new love. With it's keen social observations, laugh-out-loud scenes and whip-smart dialogue, Helen of Pasadena reads like a roman à clef and unfolds like a romantic comedy. Along the way, this novel delivers humor, insight and wisdom on reinventing yourself.

My Take: I love checking out a new chick-lit author and I love anything set in my home state so I was really excited when this book showed up in my mailbox! It sounded perfect for me. I little humor, a little drama, and a hot archaeologist. What's not to love? And frankly, there wasn't much to not love, the book was pretty great!

I've never been to Pasadena, CA and I'm going to be honest, after reading this book I am not sure I'm sold on the fact that I want to go there. There were times when I was really intrigued by it. I want to check out the houses! All of these really rich people! But yikes, it sounds like a place where you really have to keep up with the Jones'. Our title character, Helen, is originally from Sisters, Oregon, which believe it or not, I've been there, a lot! Some of my relatives live in central Oregon so when they kept talking about how she was from this small town that has recently boomed and people are all into fiber artists and extreme sports I had to smile. Helen wanted to escape her past. I get that, many of us no longer live where we grew up. She went to college and wanted a better life for herself. When she met a man that seemed to have it all, Merritt, she thought her life would be set, so why finish her degree?

Little did she know that some years later that same hero would become a philanderer and get killed in a tragic (if not tragically funny) accident and leave her and her son destitute. Now, Helen has to get her life in order and figure out how to pay all of her bills, get a job, and get her son through the rest of school all by himself. Helen, is totally someone you can relate to and root for and that, aside from the humor of some of these characters in the book, makes this book so easy to read. It made the pages turn themselves. She got dealt a bum deck in the middle of her life and she needed to get a grip when she could have had a meltdown and figure out where to go. So many chick-lit books are just about meeting the guy but in this book Helen is a middle aged mother so she has responsibilities. There is more meat to this story.

However, don't think for one second there isn't a hottie! Helen, swings a cool gig at the Huntington as Patrick O'Neil's assistant where she has been doing some serious volunteer work for years while he has a grant to do some research. He is sexy, older, but alas he has a past. What's great is it allows Helen to revisit her classical training. I will leave the romance up to the reader.

The only fault for me, and it eventually became a big one, was the vast amount of typos in this book. It's a finished paperback, not an advanced reader copy, and this book had typos on pretty much every single page. It made the reading stilted when it should have been smooth. I can forgive a couple, I can not forgive hundreds. Prospect Park Books, if you are looking for an copyeditor, drop me a line!

Cover Lust: I absolutely loved this cover! The color blocks are beautiful!


  1. I've actually been to Pasadena several times. There's a great Library/Museum/Gardens I used to go to all the time and my sister's in-laws (I don't know what that makes them to me) lived there and we would visit. The published textbooks so they were by no means wealthy. But I will say there is an air of "keeping up with the Jones" around that town.

    Yikes, about the typos. I am a horrendous speller (thank goodness for spell check) but I can't stand published books with typos. For goodness sake isn't that a copy editors main job? Hopefully they'll fix that make the next printing.

  2. After my last few chick lit failings I'm in need of a good one - this might be it! Sounds like a great read (minus the typos!).

  3. Amused, it's the publisher piping up here, and I am mortified about the typos in that first printing. You are right, and we are much more professional than that normally. All I can say is that during the editorial process, I was in chemo for breast cancer (really) and was not up to my usual fussbudgety self, and I used a new proofreader who, trust me, I will NEVER EVER use again.

    Fortunately, that first printing sold out very quickly, and we hired another proofreader, and the second printing is much cleaner, as is the new Kindle book. So readers, know that it's now better!

  4. Typos bug me in a finished copy too, but it sounds like this book was worth putting up with the errors.

  5. Martha - I'm sure a lot of the Pasadena info was there for comedic effect but I do still think I want to visit at some point on my travels down through southern CA!

    Book Gatherer - I would highly recommend this one!

    Colleen - I am so happy to hear that you are on the other side of your cancer. Congratulations! And congrats on having the first printing sell out so quickly! Believe me, if I like a book so much that I can look past it, I know I would love it in it's second printing! Good to know :)

    Bermudaonion - definitely worth a read!

  6. I love Pasadena!! You must visit! Old Town is the best with lots of trendy shops and eateries. Also, the bungalow homes are pricey but so gorgeous.

    I am not into chick-lit or I'd try this one on for size, but DO visit Pasadena! I just had to say that.

  7. Pasadena is so beautiful!!! Now with the weather looking up in Toronto, this might be a fun one to read to get me excited about summer! :)

  8. I was kind of left staring at that cover..the top part reminds me of a book, and now it really bugs me cos can't remember which one

  9. I've never been to Pasadena, but always wanted to, so this book is definitely something I will be interested in reading.
    This was a really great review, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    I am following you now, would be great if you could stop by my blog sometimes, too :)

  10. Pasadena is sure ripe with comic material. When you get there check out the Huntington Library. It has a nice museum and a great botanical garden.

  11. I don't read much chick-lit, but this one sounds fun.

  12. oooh i love the cover on this book too! that's disappointing to hear about all the typos in a finished copy.

  13. The book sounds like fun, but I think typos would drive me insane! Thanks for the warning!

  14. It's definitely on my wish list. I've listened to the author and her sisters' radio show for years. They are The Satellite Sisters and you can subscribe (free) to their podcasts on iTunes. - No I'm not their publicist, haha. I just enjoy their show. I think Lian Dolan also has her own podcast: The Chaos Chronicles. Anyway, I'm glad to hear the typos have been cleaned up. I'll be ordering the Kindle edition.


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

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...