Disclaimer #1: My observations cannot be deemed wholly objective. I am easily impacted by external influence, the last movie I saw, the last book I read, the last comment I heard from Dr. Phil or my own editor. Like Scrooge, I am uncertain my observations aren't persuaded by a fragment of underdone potato.
Disclaimer #2: I received a copy of this book from the author herself, a disclosure the importance of which is known only to Amazon, who requires I say so.
Enough has been mentioned by others of the complex plot and solid characterization of THE WHOLE CLOVE DIET. Most excellent. And scene description was nothing less than a masterful slight of hand with an economy of words, igniting this reader's neural receptors to engage all my senses (and while I'm not much fond of the odor of wet wool, especially while I'm reading, it was exact, exquisite, and thankfully brief).
(Also, and this is seldom mentioned in a book review, the volume has heft, the cover is shiny and bright, and the pages are crisp, slick and substantial. A very nice physical publication. For those of you who are e-readers, you will have to content yourself with the pleasing format and layout.)
I love this author, the way she thinks, the way she writes, her humor and her perception. Insight into the human soul is her miraculous gift, bordering on B&E of the psyche, and with it she created a protagonist I was most willing with whom to invest my time, sympathy and encouragement.
By chapter ten, however, I found my enthusiasm waning for Rita's plight, and seriously wanted to slap her by chapter seventeen. Her ruminations are revealing, but the drive for her to correct or even comprehend what was happening to her life seemed left to public transportation, hindered by a series of random detours at the hands of one or other dysfunctional driver. I was impatient for her to get off the bus. I wanted - needed - her to arrive somewhere sooner, at downtown Rage or Realization mall, at Frustration Junction or End of the Line Despair. Not just at the refrigerator again. (But see Disclaimer #1)
Her issue isn't really about the unwanted pounds she's gained; it is about shedding the weight of emotional fat she's accumulated since her childhood. And she knows it, deep inside - evidenced by her obsession with hair-cuts, as though trimming the outside of her head might help fix the inside - but her focus on finding the abracadabra fix-all delays her from reaching any real Ah-Ha moment.
With writing so delightful, I nonetheless persisted, and I'm glad I did. Rita gloriously, if not glamorously, rediscovers her backbone, both physically and psychically, and the ending after the ending is that she succeeds, thrives, and dances to her own rhythm. I know she does. Miraculously too, when she tunes into and turns down her own level of crazy, so do the other characters. They don't change, but the contrast changes, and their own brand of once glaring psychosis diffuses into something easily understandable, even justifiable. When she no longer sees herself as a victim, the others don't seem so much like bullies. Another deft piece of the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't magic of Ms. Walters.
This is a book I would read again. In fact, I may do so now.
And BTW, for those readers who do not live near to or over the border of Canada, or were not blessed with a French-Canadian mom ... a `serviette' is what we here in the States call a napkin. Just FYI.