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on October 22, 2003
I hadn't read a Barbara Delinsky novel before, and this one showed up at my house unexpectedly. I hadn't ordered it, but it came anyways, so I decided to check it out. It's one of the best "book" decisions I've made in a long time.
The novel centers around Casey Ellis. Raised by her mother and not acknowledged by her father, she was constantly searching for approval from her father. She followed in his career path and strived to be as good as him in the field of psychology. It isn't until he passes away and leaves her his townhouse that she really learns about what made him tick and why he chose not to acknowledge her as his daughter.
Casey finds a journal about a young girl named Jenny. Her mother was killed and her father is in prison. Jenny is an outcast and terrified of her father coming home...until she meets Pete. He is everything she ever wanted in a man and makes her feel loved. He is perfect! But is he too good to be true?
Casey can't help but want to know more about Jenny and find this girl. It seems as though her father left her a mystery to solve. This book is the discovery of two girls and their father-daughter relationships..what they need from these men and what they don't. It will make you laugh, cry, want to scream! I recommend this book.
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on September 2, 2003
Everything you love about Barabara Delinsky's writing is here in her latest novel, plus some bonuses. This is the first time, well, since "A Woman Next Door," that she has written something you cannot put down. There is suspense, mystery, complex emotional issues, right to life issues, small towns, incest, child molestation, ghosts, suicide, aging parents, grief, etc.. plus much, much more. And, all these themes are tied together beautifully.
I rarely give Delinsky 5 stars, but I can see "Flirting With Pete" is a first-rate effort. It really is one of Delinsky's best, if not the best she has ever written.
Was there anything I didn't like? I think she gets a little too technical with the medical stuff. An author needs to make sure a novel isn't coming off like a textbook in explanation. However, I am interested in medical stuff, and nature/gardening, so it wasn't that boring for me. That's the problem: if the subject is maple syrup, or apple cider making, and you couldn't care in the least, then getting too technical is a problem.
But, here, the whole gardening/flowers aspect of this novel works because there is a sense of nature that parallels the gripping plot. I really got a strong sense of the sprawling three-tiered garden setting, and the multi-level Beacon Hill townhouse that much of this story takes place in. Delinsky's characterization and insight into her characters moods and feelings is so nuanced and precise, I felt like the characters were in the room with me.
I did, however, think the cover was a bit too much and gimmicky. But, so what? I don't rate based on a cover and I couldn't care less what's on the jacket. What matters is what's between the covers, and Delinsky has absolutely outdone herself on this novel.
One thing that Delinsky does right is to throw in her twists all throughout this novel--unlike some authors (Nicholas Sparks) who make you wait until the very end until the payoff. Delinsky throws in a series of payoffs all throughout her novel, giving the reader some immediate satisfaction, as well as hooking the reader early-on. I'm serious, once you get to the final eight chapters, you will absolutely not be able to put this one down, and I'm usually a slow reader and like to pace myself, but I easily had this done in less than a week.
Anyone who liked Delinsky's "Three Wishes" is sure to like "Flirting With Pete". Also Delinsky's writing is as good as Anita Shreve's and similar in tone to the writing in Anita Shreve's "The Last Time They Met" and Anita Shreve's "The Weight of Water". All of those novels had two parallel stories going on which rapidly careen, collide, and intersect in gripping plot twists. Delinsky brilliantly uses foreshadowing ala Anita Shreve, and creates a sense of urgency in the plots, all done through character, making this effort of Barbara Delinsky's so much more than a "romance". I think Delinsky has proven herself, with "Flirting With Pete," to be one of the most accomplished mainstream writers, right up there with the best of fiction writers such as Anita Shreve and Richard Russo(Empire Falls).
I've read at least 12 or 13 different novels by Barbara Delinsky, and this is unlike anything I've ever come across from her. Bravo!
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon July 21, 2003
Popular voice artist Linda Emond gives an assured reading of Barbara Delinsky's latest heart-tugging tale in which the lives of two women seeking answers are interwoven.
Casey Ellis is a successful young professional woman who has always sought to know her father, famous psychologist Cornelius Unger. Her birth was the result of an almost passing relationship between her mother and the father she has never known. Now, her mother lies comatose, the result of an accident, and her father has died. Surprisingly, he generously remembers Casey in his will, leaving her an elegant townhouse on exclusive Beacon Hill. Not only is the townhouse luxurious, it also comes with a full staff.
Shortly after taking possession of her new home Casey comes across a puzzling journal among her father's papers. It was written by a young woman, Jenny Clyde, who detested her father, a man in prison for killing Jenny's mother. He will soon be released and Jenny fears further abuse from him.
The journal and the story it tells baffle Casey. Is it a true account or fiction? And, very importantly, what does it tell her about the father she would like to know?
Of course, there's romance mixed with the mystery, which is always an irresistible combination.
- Gail Cooke
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on July 15, 2003
I have been an avid reader of Barbara Delinsky since 1984 when I first came upon her book Fingerprints. From that time until now I have read many of Ms. Delinsky's romance and romantic suspense books and enjoyed most of them. I even spent one summer perusing the used stores and online booksellers so I that could own every book she ever wrote including those written under her pseudonyms Billie Douglass and Bonnie Drake. I also remember being excited when Ms. Delinsky made the transition from being published in paper back to being published in hard cover. When I heard that this author's newest book Flirting with Pete would be available in the spring, I couldn't wait to read this book. Now I must admit that while I didn't think this was one of Delinsky's better books, it is still somewhat although I doubt I would recommend it to somebody as a first book to read by this author.
In the prologue of Flirting with Pete, we meet Jenny Clyde, whose father has just returned from serving a prison sentence. When Jenny's father is found a few hours later severely injured, Jenny can't be located. The reader is left to wonder briefly as Chapter 1 begins with the introduction of Casey Unger, a psychologist and illegitimate daughter of a renowned psychotherapist Cornelius Unger. Cornelius, known as Connie, has recently died and Casey, although never recognized as his daughter, is attending his memorial service. After the service, Casey is approached by Connie's lawyer who tells her that if she adheres to Connie's stipulations, she will inherit Connie's Beacon Hill townhouse. The stipulation, which includes retaining the cook and gardener is no problem for Casey to follow and she moves into the house. Then over the course of a few days and in a most mysterious fashion, Casey comes across a series of papers titled Flirting With Pete that tells the rather sad story of a young woman. Now Casey is faced with questions which she must find answers to like who is Pete? And who are the cook, Meg and Dan the gardener that she must retain? What is their connection to Connie and even to Casey. And most of all where did these papers come from and why did a man who abandoned her and then ignored her for all of her life even when she followed in his professional footsteps now want her to live in his home. Finally we ask ourselves what has happened to Jenny Clyde, where is she and how does this all relate to Casey and Connie Unger.
While the book was intriguing at the beginning, I was ultimately very disappointed by the end. Even the inclusion of a plot involving Casey's mother who is in a coma did little to improve the book or the premise of the mother daughter or father daughter relationship. The book is told as a story within a story as the reader finds the pages of the Flirting With Pete story interspersed between the pages of Casey's story. I did enjoy this unique format as I have also enjoyed in Anita Shreve's book The Weight of water and Diane Chamberlains recent book, Kiss River. But in the end there were just too many unanswered questions for me to really enjoy this book. As I closed the last page I was interested to know why did Connie treat Casey the way he did and most of all what happens to Meg, Dan and Casey in the future.
While I realize than even a favorite author may write a book loyal readers may not enjoy, I am looking forward to her next title and am comforted in the knowledge that I have many older titles of this authors still to read. I did rate this book with a B because I it the way I did because I thought the book was well written and I did enjoy the two storylines. But in the end I did conclude that the story was very hard to believe and would rather have reread books like Shades of Grace, Sweet Ember or Three Wishes, which are among my all time favorites of Ms. Delinsky.
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on July 14, 2003
Barbara Delinsky's latest offering demonstrates why she perenially remains on top of the best sellers lists. It is a charming tale of loss and redemption that is just perfect for summer reading.
Renowned psychologist, Dr. Cornelius Unger, bequeaths his spectacular townhouse and all its unusual occupants to his only daughter Casey Ellis. The odd thing is that he has never met or tried to contact his daughter. Casey has always hoped that her father would embrace her while he lived and is bereft at this gift that is too much and too late. While cleaning out her fathers possessions in preparation for selling the townhouse Casey stumbles onto a partial journal describing the case study of a young woman who was abused by her parents and shunned by her neighbors. As she searches for the remainder of the journal and the answers to her questions about her own father she grows to love the townhouse and its occupants, a wary young housekeeper and a patient and an enigmatic gardner.
Each story is well conceived and compelling, and filled with richly drawn characters. The two intriguing stories are expertly woven together to a stunning climax.
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on July 14, 2003
Just loved this latest Delinsky novel - it ranks with my all time favorite Coast Road! Her literary style - a fragmented journal within the main story made for an interesting scenario. Characters in both were essentially trying to conquer their own demons and the author delved into their minds and souls. Jenny and Pete, Casey and Jordan and the other relatives and friends added to the emotional environment. The added touch of mystery was equally enjoying. Several tears were shed over the relationship of Casey and her mother which resonated personally. To see how the journal and the story complemented and evolved and came full circle was satisfying. If I had one complaint it would be about the descriptions of the abundant flowers in the gardens. I am a budding gardener and did pick up some tips but thought the story would have been fine without the excessive descriptions of the flowers.
Flirting with Peter was a quick read, entertaining and interesting as the reader starts to fill in the blanks with the subtle clues. A character study is one of my favorite genre to read and Barbara Delinsky did a superb job in this one.
I'd sure like to meet a Pete or a Jordan!
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on June 16, 2003
Therapist Casey Ellis is attending the funeral of renowned psychologist Cornelius Unger, a respected person in his field. Casey feels melancholy because Cornelius is the father who never acknowledged her and never made any effort to talk to her even when she enrolled in one of his classes. At the end of the funeral, his lawyer tells Casey that her father left her his Beacon Hill townhouse with the request that she keep on the maid and the gardener.
At first Casey doesn't want anything to do with the home out of loyalty to her mother who has been in a coma for the last three years and is not expected to wake up. When one of her partners in her group practice absconds with the rent money, Casey decides to open a solo practice at her father's townhouse. There she meets the handsome gardener Jordan; they start a relationship. She also becomes involved with a manuscript her father left for her about a woman who he treated as an outcast by the town she lives in and is afraid of the father who is coming home from prison after six years for killing her mother.
Barbara Delinsky has written a moving tale of two women having to cope with severe traumas, one fighting her demons alone and the therapist having a support system that carries her through each crisis. One of this author's greatest talents is to write about people who immediately establish rapport with the audience so that readers care what happens to them. FLIRTING WITH PETE is a memorable work of women's fiction.
Harriet Klausner
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on June 14, 2003
Casey Ellis may not have warm feelings for the Boston townhouse that her renowned father, Dr. Cornelius Unger, bequeathed to her. But the sight of its garden gives her an immediate sense of belonging. Fueled by anger that the man had never made an attempt to be her father, she carries much resentment when she first inserts the key in his door. How a dead man helps her to peel back the layers of frost on the door to her heart is a story of gratitude and reconciliation.
FLIRTING WITH PETE is much more than a romantic novel. Its plot twists and turns with the comparison between two different life stories. A third character, Jenny Clyde, provides the mystery that propels the story forward. Jenny's life in tiny Little Falls is the sad story of a young girl caught between warring parents. When her father is to be released from prison, serving time for her mother's murder, Jenny sees her hopes for a normal life disappear.
A trained psychological counselor, Casey sets up practice in the new townhouse. Shuffling through Unger's papers, she discovers a journal that unlocks her curiosity --- the journal is Jenny's story. Although Casey had no contact with Unger while he was alive, she feels that he is reaching out to her with bits and pieces of the journal to help solve a mystery. Casey sees the writings as a link to Unger's little known past.
In the manuscript, Jenny copes with her dark past and unknown future by becoming involved with Pete, a strong young stranger who is driving through town on a motorcycle. She is infatuated with him and decides to leave Little Falls with him for a new home out west. Casey's own life experiences run parallel to those of Jenny's when she attempts to solve the puzzle of Jenny's disappearance.
Casey honors her father's two wishes when she assumes ownership of his house; she keeps both the maid and the gardener in her employ. Both provide her with the tools not only to unearth roots from Unger's past but also to connect into it. The virile gardener pushes her sexuality beyond limits she has traveled. Delinsky paints a picture of the modern family that examines the deep feelings held by children of different unions. When Casey comes to terms with her own longings, and the reasons behind them, she can let go of former negatives that had guided her.
FLIRTING WITH PETE is a delight to read, the type of novel that delays supper and bedtime. Delinsky gets into the hearts and minds of her characters with artful choices of description and styles. They exhibit failings, but they also exhibit necessary qualities to become problem-solvers. They have to work for the resolution of their difficulties. Applause is truly earned when they get it right.
--- Reviewed by Judy Gigstad
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on June 13, 2003
FLIRTING WITH PETE by Barbara Delinsky
FLIRTING WITH PETE is quite a departure from her regular style of writing, but Barbara Delinsky comes up with a soap-opera-ish plot line in this novel about two very different women who are worlds apart, yet their stories parallel each other. Casey Ellis is a psychotherapist, and while her professional life is successful, her personal life is lacking. Her main problem is dealing with a sad and bitter childhood and an absent father that passes away before she can make contact with him. Her father, Dr. Cornelius "Connie" Unger, was a famous psychologist, and the book opens with Casey in attendance at his memorial service, although she was not invited. All her life she has followed her father's career, and it is to his credit that she pursued the career that she did. Despite her bitterness, she accepts the house that he wills to her upon his death, and she soon moves her office there.
The other woman in this novel is Jenny, but her story is told in a series of journals. Casey finds these in her father's house, the house that she inherited upon his death, and as she finds each piece of the journal, she reads about a young woman who lives in fear for her life. According to the journals, Jenny lives alone in her father's house, while her father remains in jail for the murder of her mother. She is a loner, and has been all of her life. She tries to make a life for herself, but it is difficult for her, always feeling like the town outcast. As she tries to move on with her life, she also knows that time is ticking. Her father is due to be released soon.
While Casey reads about Jenny, she deals with her current situation of living at her father's spectacular townhouse. She sees her patients there, some of whom seem to have problems that parallel hers. She also becomes "friends" with Meg, a shy woman that was her father's housekeeper, and meets Jordan, her father's gorgeous gardener. At the same time, she deals with her mother who has been in a coma for a long time, and Casey visits her every day, hoping that her mother will awaken.
Without giving much away, the two stories of Casey's life and Jenny's life come together into one big climax at the end of the book. They merge into one story, which at first does not seem to be possible, but clues are left here and there, allowing the reader to figure out what common ground both stories may have.
FLIRTING WITH PETE was a book choice for my online book club, and I have to say that there were many differing views on this novel. Half the group did not care for it, and preferred Delinsky's older style of writing. I personally loved the book. What I loved about the story was that Delinsky was looking more into the reasons why the characters did what they did, as opposed to focusing on pure action. Yes, there is a lot of action in this book, but I don't feel it is the main point of the story. Delinsky was trying to tell the story of a man who did not know how to love his own daughter, and because of his fears, created a series of actions that brought Casey to where she was today. It's a psychological thriller, to some extent, and I hope others like me will enjoy this novel. I recommend this novel, more to first time readers of Barbara Delinsky. For veteran readers of her works, I want to warn them that this may not be the novel they are expecting.
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on July 7, 2003
Try as I might, I really didn't find much sympathy for Cassandra Ellis, the young, single, successful therapist who yearns for the father she never connected with and who lovingly tends to her comatose mother.
Once her father dies, Cassandra's world is turned upside down, inside out and she reels from rather than steels for the ride.
I had difficulty following the parallel story lines between Cassandra and patient/relative, the abused Jenny Clyde, and I figured out the "mystery" long before I should have...I even pegged Cassandra's stepmother correctly....and long before Cassandra did.
Anyway, I usually like Delinsky's strong women. Cassandra seemed a little whiny to me, always looking for someone to blame for her father's self-imposed isolation, "self-imposed" being the operative word.
The "Jenny Clyde" character was more interesting and certainly waged the real battles in this book.
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