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Walter's Muse [Paperback]

Jean Davies Okimoto
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 17.55 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2012
It's the first summer of her retirement and librarian Maggie Lewis is relishing the unfolding of sweet summer days on Vashon Island: walking on the beach, reading the classics, and kayaking. But in June when a sudden storm hits the island, Maggie's summer becomes about as peaceful as navigating white water. Not only does her wealthy sister arrive uninvited with a startling announcement; but Maggie finds herself entangled with her new Baker's Beach neighbor, Walter Hathaway. A famous children's author and recovering alcoholic, Walter has a history with Maggie they would each like to forget.

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Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A slower read with some editing glitches March 19 2012
By Lydia - Novel Escapes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I'm not sure I was the right demographic to read Walter's Muse. It's always so difficult when I don't enjoy a book to write a negative review, but sadly, this one didn't capture me as much as I'd hoped. Walter's Muse provided some thought provoking insights and reflections on retiring and having watched my parents go through this life change recently, it interested me to a point, but overall I couldn't really connect with this one.

A romantic at heart, I enjoyed seeing love blooming at any age - and the worries that go with it, as well as the possibility that change and happiness are never out of reach if you're willing to let it in. I loved Martha Jane's sense of curiosity and zest for life even in her 90's. All in all though, I couldn't really connect to any of the characters and there wasn't enough to keep me on the edge of my seat, even though there are plenty of positive reviews for this novel.

I felt Walter's Muse could have benefited from a few more hours in the editing room. There was repetition to be smoothed over, including Maggie using her librarian's voice multiple times, descriptions of her sister, Mary Jane's memory issues being reiterated many times over as well as Maggie having to learn about technology as a librarian. Even worse were a couple of flips between the past tense to the present which completely threw me. I also found the novel clichéd at times, especially some of the novel writing aspects, the metaphors, and even the characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars life can be full of good surprises at any age March 4 2012
By Laura Fabiani TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
Maggie Lewis is a retired librarian who's looking forward to spending a quiet summer on Vashon Island where she lives. But a wind storm hits the island, and her new neighbour, Walter Hathaway, an award-winning children's author, gets injured. Suddenly, Maggie is involved in Walter's life and we learn they had a history together twenty years ago. But Walter is a different man than when she first met him. He is now a grumpy, recovering alcoholic, a loner, and struggling to get published again. What's more, Maggie also has to deal with her younger needy sister with whom she shares a sad childhood.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Walter's Muse. It includes a cast of quirky, flawed characters, most of whom are all retirees, and it deals with accepting that although one grows older, life is still full of surprises and worthy endeavours. It's written with humour and nuggets of wisdom on the gift of friendship. I especially liked the character of Martha Jane, the ninety-year-old who still has a zest for life despite her dementia and slow pace.

I work with seniors so reading this story about second chances at love and one's passion in life had me smiling. Sixty-five is not old to me. That's not to say it didn't stand out in the story. It did. The author didn't squirm away from addressing issues of growing old, and I liked that. It was very much about what does one do after one stops working and raising his/her family? I found it insightful.

The setting of Vashon Island is metaphorical. The pace of life there is slower, unlike the city, and it is isolated from the mainland, allowing for a life that encourages reflection and tranquillity.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good enough I guess... Feb. 21 2012
By Ellen M - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I don't regret purchasing the book, but this is probably another good example of why it's good to get a Kindle sample first. I liked the setting, I liked the story, I disliked most of the characters. The protagonist in particular spent most of her time feeling sorry for herself, never took responsibility for her actions and seemed particularly hostile to her sister. Also very whiney, with no attempts to resolve any issues with anybody. This wouldn't bother me if the character was a teenager, maybe just learning her way in the world, but a 65 year old woman? No way. I'm past 50 myself. Okay, way past. But I know better, women my age (at least the ones I know) are way more comfortable in their own skins than this woman.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for Me Feb. 6 2013
By My2Cents - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I read several favorable reviews about this book, but sadly I wasn't as impressed. It was definitely a character driven novel, but I found the writing overwrought and lacking substance.

The story takes place on Vaschon Island, Washington, a remote island accessible only by ferry or boat. The locale seemed lovely and the beauty and tranquility the island seemed to offer takes on a life of its own -- makes me want to live there. There are (2) major characters in this story: Walter, a grumpy senior citizen, who is also awell known writer of children's books. He is also a man who has struggled with alcoholism. Maggie, the other main character, is a former school librarian who is now retired. At 65 when she thinks of Walter, she can't help but recalls a much earlier encounter with him when she worked as a librarian. Maggie's also a nosy lady who likes to snoop on others, and she spends much of her time feeling sorry for herself, and the way her life turned out. Both of these characters enjoy their solitude and privacy. There are a few minor characters on the island as well. Miss Martha, a senior, senior citizen who shares wisdom of the ages; she's now 91, and, there is Bill Bailey, Walter's dog who is mentioned so often I had to count him as a key player.

When the story begins, Maggie hears Bill Baily, Walter's dog, howling non stop and goes over to check things out during a high wind and rain storm. She finds Walter has fallen off of a ladder and is injured. She calls for help and he is taken to the hospital. In the interim, Walter asks Maggie to care for his dog, which she does. As the novel progresses, and it is a painfully slow process, they begin to see the good in one another and form a connection.

I can see the appeal of this book for some readers who enjoy setting more than story, but it's just not the type of novel that I typically enjoy, and honestly I didn't care for the main characters either.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun read with interesting characters and great discussion starter March 13 2013
By Patricia R. Hamilton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I originally reviewed this book on my blog Patricias Wisdom and gave it a high rating and now I want to write about it again and give it another high mark, because last night an 11 person book group discussed this book, added an extra hour to the evening because they found it so touched their own lives and hearts they felt open to share their fears, joys and laughter discovered in this fictional story.
It is a story about one of our local island communities and some new arrivals; how they bond and change is an important part of the story. People who live on an island need to connect and respect and this tale emphasized these wonderful qualities with a diverse group of characters. Maggie has just retired from being a school librarian and is giving herself a year to just enjoy being herself - rediscover what she wants to be and do. A very good plan for an introvert then again it is not to be with all the twists and turns a person can find blowing her way in a big wind storm of change.
My group of folks discussing the book covered a wide range of ages and each was able to connect with a depth and the gentle telling opened something in their lives they wished to share, several times for the first time. We all discussed sisters and mothers and aging and wisdom. We found something to laugh about and looked at the diversity of the little community of the book - the cove. Where there is fear their can be hope and this writer covered both angles. Fabulous metaphors.
Fun moments within this gently style. Stays with you.
Making big life changes is hard work and this covered those transitions very well - there is a wisdom found here.

I have read it several times, and the discussion group thought they would read it again too after the discussion. We all want to be recognized, appreciated and find community and this book enhanced our little group and accomplished just those good things in story form.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not just a "woman's book." July 17 2013
By Caroida - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because of the setting, the beautiful Pacific Northwest. However, the happy story of a retired librarian in my age bracket appealed to me, the diverse and quirky characters charmed me. I recommended it to my local book club, and they are reading it this month!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review of Walter's Muse May 17 2012
By Lydia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are some books that just give that bit of a tingly feeling inside when you start to read them. That feeling that signals that what you are about to read requires several items: a warm blanket, a cup of tea, rain pattering against the window and lots and lots of time to invest.

That's the feeling I got when I cracked open Walter's Muse. I was immediately drawn into a world with mature adults, mystery, intrigue, lure, and promise and I loved it so very much.

The characters in this book were incredible. From the very first instant I was introduced to Walter I felt as if I wanted - no, needed to know more. I needed to know even about his dog! That's some intriguing character writing there.

I did have a few issues with the book (namely pacing issues) but overall, I thought it was a solid, good comfort read and one that I enjoyed very much. It did what I ask of books - let me escape my crazy, stressful world and go somewhere that came alive for me.
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