I requested an advance copy of this book after reading the review of fellow book blogger, Joanne Baird at Portobello Book Blog (her review). I wasn’t sure what to expect but I ended up really enjoying. It is a testament to Suzanne Kelman’s writing because I am normally someone who likes intrigue, action, adventure and plot twists. But this book was just so much fun to read. As the title suggests,this is about a Book Club full of interesting ladies who meet to share their rejections at the hands of publishers. It is told from the perspective of Janet, who at the beginning was an outsider, drawn in to their group to help them celebrate their 500th rejection letter. I found the more I discovered about the ladies in this club the more I admired each and every one of them. It was lovely to see that they had transformed this negative word into something positive. It became a connection between them and it facilitated in a deep bond between all the ladies of the club. They write because they love to not because they want to be famous or successful and I think that is a very important message to anyone.
There were a lot of things that I liked about this book, but I don’t want to give too much of the story away, so I will only mention what I can in this review. I love Suzanne Kelman’s way with words, the writing in this book felt very modern and it was really witty. I particularly enjoyed her way of depicting everyday things and making them humorous. The characters in this book could have been very bland but the way in which they are viewed by the main character, through this comic lens, made them so vibrant and interesting.
This book is great entertainment but it also has a few strong messages that the reader can take from it. Things like not judging a book by its cover, till you’ve really got to know it. But the thing that stands out the most about the world in which Suzanne Kelman has created is a sense of community. Right the way through the novel it is reiterated that these ladies are a community and they stick together. It was so lovely to read about the this in this book, the upsides and the downsides and it made me hope and pray that someday I could move to somewhere that has a community like this one (without an Ethel perhaps). I think that the meaning of community and the importance of it has greatly transformed and diminished from what it used to be and this was a great snapshot of a community in action and how rewarding they can be. This book showed me the way no matter what personality you are; everyone can benefit from being part of a community.
On the whole this book is very entertaining and comedic, it is just a laugh a minute with the eclectic selection of characters that we share the journey with. It was a refreshing dose of reality in a marvellous work of fiction. I'm looking forward to reading more from Suzanne Kelman.