The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel Hardcover – Jan 29 2013
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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.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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
426 pages including recipes and scrapbooking tips
Review by M. Reynard 2012
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.
This book appears to feature four main characters: Frances, who is a mom to growing boys and is getting ready to adopt a baby girl from China; Yvonne, who is new in town and is trying to get her plumbing business up and running; Isabel, who is starting over and still angry at her late ex for his betrayal; and Ava, who lost the love of her life and is finding single motherhood difficult to navigate when money is tight. And you will enjoy reading about each of these ladies.
In the end, the true main character is Bettie, founder of said scrapbooking society, whose appearance at your door usually elicits groans. She usually shows up when you are your wit's end. As the story unfolds, however, Bettie shows up just when you need someone the most.
Much like Cats, I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me. It's just a beautiful story, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and incredibly satisfying. It's like a snow day, where you stay home and curl up in your favorite chair to read.
Set in a small town, it is the story of Bettie Shelton who seems to literally push her scrapbook materials on all and sundry, including business men who don't seem to realize that they have been the "victims" of this well-meaning older woman -- a woman who turns out to have major health issues. But in addition to Bettie,there is seemingly a cast of thousands who are introduced at break-neck speed by the author. Unfortunately for me, the majority of the characters and their stories were uninteresting or just plain silly -- especially the opening bit about a goat that had wandered away from its owner. But that wasn't the silliest in my opinion -- I reserve that for the story of Isabel, whose late husband had fathered a child with another woman, and said mistress wanted to forge a bond with the widow. I think that is asking a bit much, don't you? In addition, there is a foreign adoption, a career woman, an elderly woman and her tea salon, and their men and families. The book also goes back and forth between being told in present tense and past tense, which is a little confusing -- for me, I prefer the author to stick to one or the other. While I believe there is a readership for this book, I am not a member of that group, as none of the characters grabbed me or seemed like real people.