Monday, February 16, 2015

Book Review: Good Grief: Life in a Tiny Vermont Village by Ellen Stimson

I really enjoyed Ms. Stimson's first memoir, Mud Season, and so I was excited when she had another memoir come out, and so soon. But once I started reading it, I thought, oh no. This was too soon. She doesn't have enough material and it's just a bunch of little episodes strung together with no narrative arc or plot to hang on. And I did also wonder, what the heck was up with the title which seemed to not fit the book at all.

And then about 2/3 of the way in, there's a twist, and suddenly all the episodes started to come together as did the title. I don't think I'm giving away a spoiler any more than the title does to say that someone important in Ellen's family dies suddenly. And of course, it turns everyone's lives upside down.

Ellen's voice is a little manic and eager-to-please for me. She's a tad repetitive and incessantly tells us that she's loud and talks a lot (which I was well aware of). The subtitle doesn't make much sense as the book doesn't have much to do with the town at all, particularly not like last time. This isn't a case where after the big tragedy, the town rallied to help Ellen pull through or they finally started to accept her as one of them. Nope. Things were pretty much the same, and they mostly relied on out-of-state friends and family.

That said, it was a fast, easy read. She's very friendly and accessible, and her voice is somewhat reminiscent of Jen Lancaster (but with a lot less vitriol). And that may be who the publisher is modeling her on. But this book wasn't as successful, in my opinion.

I checked this book out of the library.

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