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The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel [Hardcover]

Darien Gee

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Book Description

Jan. 29 2013
Perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Kristin Hannah, Beth Hoffman, and Kate Jacobs, this luminous novel from the author of Friendship Bread follows a group of fascinating women who form deep friendships through their love of scrapbooking—as memories are preserved, dreams are shared, and surprising truths are revealed.

Welcome to Avalon, Illinois, Pop. 4,243

 
At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.
 
Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.
 
By turns humorous, wise, and deeply moving, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a luminous reminder that the things we hold most dear will last a lifetime.
 
“In a gathering of women there will always be compelling stories. Throw in a love of craft and these stories take on a whole new dynamic. There are shared secrets, support, encouragement, and love as the Avalon Ladies come to terms with the past and boldly step forward into the future.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (Jan. 29 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034552537X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345525376
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.2 x 3.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #280,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Praise for Darien Gee and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society 

“In a gathering of women there will always be compelling stories. Throw in a love of craft and these stories take on a whole new dynamic. There are shared secrets, support, encouragement, and love as the Avalon Ladies come to terms with the past and boldly step forward into the future.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber 

 “There are many threads to this story (including a female plumber with a secret past), but, like a good scrapbooker, Gee puts them all together beautifully. Bettie is the glue that holds the residents of Avalon together—whether they like it or not—and as she seems to unravel, the town comes together. This funny, moving book is the follow-up to Friendship Bread (2011), although The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society can stand on its own. A welcome addition to any women’s-fiction collection and a good choice for fans of Debbie Macomber’s knitting series.”--Booklist 

“A three-hanky nod to It’s a Wonderful Life. Gee—who also writes as Mia King (Table Manners)—gets the unapologetically schmaltzy tone just right with the irresistible premise that we can love the impossible. A surefire book club hit.” --Publisher’s Weekly 

“In this exceptionally well-written novel you’ll find heartwarming inspiration, humor, wisdom and endless charm … This is one of those books you’ll want to tell your friends about so you can talk about the antics and struggles that will stay in your heart long after the final page is turned. Gee is an author to keep a close eye on.” --RT Book Reviews

 “Truly charming! You’ll want to read and then immediately share with your best friends (and then start a scrapbooking society of your own!). Darien Gee writes about friendship and family with depth, grace and heart.”—Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of Blackberry Winter and The Violets of March

“Darien Gee pieces together lives and scraps with the skill and heart of a true storyteller. The ladies of Avalon will have you calling your sisters and girlfriends to share old memories and make new ones. I loved it!”—Lisa Wingate, bestselling author of Dandelion Summer and Blue Moon Bay

Praise for Darien Gee’s Friendship Bread
 “A vivid, tender portrait of friends, a window into the intricacies of friendship itself.”—New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice 

 “With heart and soul, Darien Gee has crafted a charming story of love, friendship, tragedy, and the surprising ways healing weaves its way through a small town.”—New York Times bestselling author Beth Hoffman

 “You’ll root all the way as these characters stumble toward forgiveness, understanding, and, ultimately, celebration. Friendship Bread is a perfect book club selection.”—New York Times bestselling author Kate Jacobs

“Charming.”—Ladies’ Home Journal

 “An engrossing story about a small town and lives transformed.”—Miami Herald

 “Perfect for the book-club circuit and beyond.” —Kirkus

“Darien Gee’s virtuoso storytelling kept me turning pages—and wishing I lived in Avalon.”—New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer

 “Comforting, warm and delicious.”—New York Times bestselling author Jane Green
 

About the Author

Darien Gee lives in Hawaii with her husband and their three children. She is also the author of Friendship Bread.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  189 reviews
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good small-town feel. Nov. 27 2012
By D. Williams - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
In the small town of Avalon, Illinois, a group of people gather to preserve their memories in scrapbooks and enjoy food and friendship. They are a close but welcoming group, and Bettie, the leader, offers newcomers a small beginning scrapbooking kit.

But there is much more going on in this small Midwestern town than one might think. Bettie must face health issues. Reed and Frances are working through an international adoption. Yvonne is a new plumber in town, and she is trying to grow her business and still be honest. Ava is a single parent who was involved with Isabel's late husband. Ava's child is a bit of a slap in the face to Isabel because Isabel and her late husband struggled with infertility. There's all this, and much more.

Granted, these are typical goings-on in a small community, and we get a broad sampling of the people of Avalon. There are many characters, and it's a challenge to keep up with who's who, but that, too, is typical of small-town life. Also, even though this novel supposedly picks up where Gee's earlier novel, Friendship Bread, leaves off, it isn't too hard to pick up on what's going on.

Though all the threads of this novel are typical of small-town life - and warmly-written - I give this novel a four-star rating because it is just a little too busy. Readers could use some front matter to introduce the characters and tell a bit about them.

The recipes at the end of this novel are very tempting, but what about the Friendship Bread starter? It is meant to be shared; I bake our own bread, but I know of no one else who could or would use the starter. So can the starter safely be cut down? Also, starters take care and feeding, and there is little detail with the starter recipe about how to care and feed it once it's ready to use.

I must say, though, that if you like the warmth and "community" feel of the late Maeve Binchy's work, give The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society a try.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society Nov. 26 2012
By M. Reynard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I absolutely loved Gee's first book, Friendship Bread. So I eagerly delved into The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, and it was very good as well. Something about Gee's writing is just so approachable and it makes you sink into the book.

This book kind of leaves off where Friendship Bread ended. But the good news is that you don't really need to have read the first book to read this one. It can stand on its own. It details the lives of several women, who have one common thread in that they are all part of a scrapbooking society in town. A society put together by the odd, but well meaning Bettie, who has a few issues of her own. All of them have things that are troubling them, but they grow and learn in the book and discover how important community really is.

There are a lot of characters in this book. So much so that my only complaint would be that it is hard to keep track of them and their particular storylines at times. There would be moments where I would have to flip back through the book just to make sure I had who was doing what right. But aside for that each of their stories were compelling. I especially felt drawn to the character Yvonne. She was a strong woman and made a better life for herself after removing herself from a toxic family. She has her troubles, but she gets through them and does it cheerfully. Isabel I didn't like as much, while she has an open heart she seemed whiny to me and a bit all over the place. And Bettie, she is so endearing even while she is being annoying. It's hard not to like her. There are many many more characters of course, but those are the ones that stand out the most.

I like how all the characters did different things in this book. Yvonne was just trying to get by with her plumbing business. Bettie was having the mental issues. Connie was struggling to find herself. They all had real life problems and went about solving them the best they could, even if sometimes that wasn't the best route they could have taken. It made them real. While some of the plot-lines were a little unbelievable (I just can't picture Isabel's really happening) most of them stayed true to real life and I think that is why this book is so easy to connect to. Not to mention its a feel good type of book and you can't help but smile as you're reading it. Light-hearted and I couldn't find anything offensive in it.

A very nice book by Gee. While it might not be quite up to the standard of her first, I think it does present a good story and relatable characters.

The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society
Copyright 2013
426 pages including recipes and scrapbooking tips

Review by M. Reynard 2012
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to Get Into or Swept Up In Feb. 15 2013
By Ashley Mott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I wanted to review this book because I really enjoyed Debbie Macomber's 'Blossom Street' series several years ago, and I expected this book to have that same charm, readability, and coziness. This book has the charm, but it doesn't have the outright 'need to read' that pulls you in and doesn't let you go until you reach the end of the volume.

It was very difficult to get into this book because the characters come at you one after the other in the beginning without a great deal of correlating information. By the time you start to rotate back and forth regularly, it is truly easy to need to flip back and refamiliarize yourself with which person has which job or does which thing. Despite this, I actually guessed the connections between some of the characters right away which made those journeys feel less dynamic in the text.

This was literally a chapter by chapter by chapter read. It was technically "Okay" and could be a nice journey for someone who really loves ensemble cast reads, but I tend to only enjoy books with mega amounts of characters when the plot will not let you put the book down at all. This book was not that way.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book June 4 2013
By Beverly J Horner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Another great book about Avalon. I could definitely relate to Frances Latham. 11 years ago I adopted a son from Korea. It was a roller coaster of emotions and a long wait. My heart went out to Bettie. I watched my Grandma deteriorate from dementia. I liked how all the characters came together to help Bettie. It was one of those books that I just couldn't put down. I felt like I was one of the scrapbooking group and makes me want to get my own scrapbooking things back out. Way to go Darien.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent Avalon book! May 1 2013
By Texas Rose - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This is a delightful and fun read, and the second in what might become a series based on characters we met in Gee's first book, Friendship Bread. I love these characters and this little town.

When I read Friendship Bread, my whole group of co-workers read it as well and for months we gained weight exchanging yeast bread starters and eating ourselves silly. Now we are back with the Avalon characters, and yes, some of my friends have picked up the scrapbooking habit just like the characters in this novel.

Besides that, this is a well-written story line of love, loss, and friendship built around a group of characters who will seem like your best friends by the end of the book because they are so well crafted. Read with caution - there are recipes in the back (the biscotti is my favorite) so you are sure to put on some pounds after picking up this book! Also, there is a section on how to hold your own scrapbooking meeting and cropping session (if you don't know what this means, you will by the end of chapter two). I'm already looking for the next book in the hope-to-be series!

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