From the back of the book:
When Audrey Matthews offers and evening class in life drawing, all she’s looking for is a little extra pocket money and something to fill her Tuesday nights. So she hires and model and recruits five students – all have their reason for being there.
For Zarek, a Polish immigrant, the class is a welcome distraction and a place to escape his dull cafe job and noisy roommate. Then there’s the handsome, mysterious James, who has moved to the small Irish town of Carrickbawn looking for a new start for himself and his daughter. He’s vowed to keep to himself, but then his interest in Jackie, the clas model and single mom, takes a more personal turn. Meanwhile, Audrey has just fallen in love – with the adorable puppy in the window of the local pet shop. Will she be put off by the store’s brusque owner or does she find out that his bark is worse than his bit?
As the weeks pass, it becomes clear to the members of the drawing class that their fellow students aren’t exactly who they seem. And soon they discover that they have important lessons to learn about the art of friendship, love, and (still) life.
I have an interesting relationship with chicklit. I always want to love it so much, but 95% of the time when I’m reading it, I’m completely raging about it. Raging about how each female character only cares about hooking up with the right man, or getting laid, or having babies. Raging about how the we, the readers, are told over and over again about these character’s many flaws – she’s not pretty, she’s overweight, she has such low self esteem, etc etc. Raging about how much of a flake the main characters are.
But every so often, I find a book that made raging through that other 95% worth it. This was one of those times.
Each character involved in the life drawing class is, in their own way, the main character of this book… which I found to be a very good thing for the story itself, but it also complicated things a little bit – especially at the beginning of the book, when you’re learning who characters are and the story keeps jumping from one character to another. But it gave you a full perspective of each character as well – not just what they thought of themselves, but also how they acted to others, or how others perceived them. Which was great most of the time… just not when you have to hear from every single character how overweight Audrey is. Blargh.
I think what I liked best about this novel was exactly how connected it all was. None of the main characters really knew each other at the beginning of the novel, when they started the life drawing class… but as you go along, you realize that everyone is somehow involved in some way in at least one other person’s life. Take, for example, Irene – her daughter goes to Meg’s play school, the nanny for her daughter is Zarek’s roommate, and the guy she is having an affair with is one of her classmates’ husbands. It reminded me a lot of the movie Love Actually in how it slowly reveals exactly how connected everyone really is. This was definitely one of the highlights – seeing how everyone is involved in other peoples lives, whether they realize it or not.
The Bottom Line
Loved this book! I will definitely be looking for more of Meaney’s books, and recommend this one to chicklit fans.