BookBrowse Reviews Good Grief by Lolly Winston

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Good Grief

by Lolly Winston

Good Grief by Lolly Winston X
Good Grief by Lolly Winston
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2004, 448 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2005, 360 pages

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A heartbreaking, gorgeous look at loss. 1st Novel

From the book jacket: In an age in which women are expected to be high achievers, thirty-six-year-old Sophie Stanton desperately wants to be a good widow--a graceful, composed, Jackie Kennedy kind of widow. Alas, Sophie is more of a Jack Daniels kind. Self-medicating with cartons of ice-cream for breakfast, breaking down in the produce section at the supermarket, showing up to work in her bathrobe and bunny slippers - soon she's not only lost her husband, but her job, her house, and her waistline.

Desperate to reinvent her life, she moves to Ashland, Oregon - but instead of the way it is in the movies (heroine being swept off her feet) - she finds herself in the middle of a madcap adventure with a darkly comic edge involving a thirteen-year-old with a fascination for fire and an alarmingly handsome actor who inspires a range of feelings she can't cope with--yet.

Comment: This was one of the big debuts of 2004.  Publishers Weekly reflected the general opinion saying 'throughout this heartbreaking, gorgeous look at loss, Winston imbues her heroine and her narrative with the kind of grace, bitter humor and rapier-sharp realness that will dig deep into a reader's heart and refuse to let go.'  

The only less than positive (actually positively vitriolic) review was from Kirkus, who describing it as an 'effervescent, silly debut: so eager to please that it reads like the speech of the candidate who won't open his mouth before the polls are consulted.'

Personally, I enjoyed it, even though it did seem a little incredible to me that someone could go from the bottomless despair of grief to the heights of competence, and even happiness, in the timescale of the book (more than that I can't say without spoiling the plot), but I have minimal first hand experience to draw on in order to make that opinion.  However, it was a fun read and it was interesting to see the 'grieving process' for the messy thing it is.  Many books and articles inspired by Elisabeth Kubler Ross's Five Stages of Dying (see sidebar) give the impression that grieving and dying are like traveling through the carriages of a train with one way doors - move through one carriage and you enter the next with no going back, when in reality the process is never so tidy.

This review is from the Good Grief. It first ran in the April 6, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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