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Library Journal Review
From Summer Island to On Mystic Lake to Distant Shores, best-selling author Hannah seems to walk on water. Here, as Elizabeth packs up the beach house after her father's death, she comes to realize that her own marriage is all washed up. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Having found her audience with Summer Island and On Mystic Lake, Hannah returns with another second-chance-at-love story, this one as bleak as the soggy Pacific Northwest setting. Perimenopausal former artist Elizabeth Shore is feeling lost and miserable these days, as daughters Jamie and Stephanie matriculate at Georgetown and husband Jack focuses on jump-starting his stalled sports broadcasting career. So Elizabeth, tellingly nicknamed "Birdie," compulsively redecorates her empty nest and pesters Jack with lugubrious questions about what's wrong with their lives. Then Jack scores a journalistic coup, and in his implausibly meteoric return to broadcasting glory, winds up in an efficiency apartment in New York City, halfheartedly fending off the advances of both a nubile assistant and a Hollywood bombshell. Meanwhile, back in rainy Oregon, Birdie grieves for her beloved late father, joins a support group for "passionless" women, starts to paint again and talks to herself in the self-help homilies Hannah favors ("No more cheerleader years for me. I need to get in the game"). She even has a rapprochement with newly widowed stepmother Anita, who, in a particularly explosive burst of character development, somehow transforms from a tacky Southern "Bette Midler on speed" to a white-haired sylph favoring "long, flowing" white dresses. (When Birdie finds her bliss, she discovers she's miraculously lost weight.) Hannah's tried-and-true formula includes the predictable happy ending, complete with life lessons tearfully learned, but only hardcore fans will make it to the last page of this dreary soap. 6-city author tour. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Elizabeth "Birdie" Shore finds herself firmly ensconced in middle age and just going through the motions of marriage with Jackson, her husband of 24 years. She has always put her husband's needs and career first, moving constantly while raising their two daughters, but now that the children are in college, she feels herself slowly drifting away just as Jackson's career is finally on the upswing. A star football player who lost his way after being injured and developing an addiction to pain killers, Jackson is having a comeback in the world of sports television, but that means they have to leave Birdie's dream house in Oregon and move to New York City. As usual, she just follows her husband, but when her father dies unexpectedly, Birdie decides to separate from Jackson and go back to Oregon to find herself and her former dream of being a painter. Isolated in her beach house, Birdie tries to rekindle the passion she had for her art, which reminds her of the passion she felt for her husband. Jackson, however, is busy indulging in the lifestyle he always thought he missed by marrying too young^-he's famous and surrounded by beautiful young women. This insightful look into the dynamics of marriage will resonate with readers, and mark Hannah as a strong voice in women's fiction. ^-Patty Engelmann
Kirkus Book Review
Another middle-aged mom in a muddle. After years of false starts and big hopes, Elizabeth's ruggedly handsome husband Jack, a former football star, just landed a spot as a sportscaster on national news. He still loves her, even though much younger women are giving him come-hither looks. Heck, he doesn't want to betray the love of his life after she helped him kick drugs and stuck by him even when he was a struggling has-been. And won't it seem hypocritical if he fools around with his sexy assistant while he does in-depth reporting on a rape case involving a famous basketball center? Well, he fools around anyway. Elizabeth, nicknamed Birdie, knows nothing of this, but she withdraws from Jack when her hard-drinking, salt-of-the-earth father has a stroke and dies. Now no one will call her "sugar beet" ever again. Time to return home to Tennessee and contend with Anita, the sort-of-evil stepmother so trashy she wears pink puffy slippers all day long. Naturally, it turns out that Anita actually has a heart of gold and knows a few things about Birdie's dead mother that were hushed up for years. Mom was an artist, just like Birdie, and an old scandal comes to light as Anita unrolls a vibrant canvas that portrays her secret lover. Perhaps, Birdie muses, her mother died of heartbreak, never having followed her true love or developed her talent. Has she, too, compromised everything she holds dear? Hoping to find out, Birdie joins a support group that promises to reconnect confused women with their passion. She and Jack separate, prompting a how-dare-you fit from their grown daughters. Will Birdie fly her empty nest? Will she go back to college for a degree in art? Will her brooding watercolors ever sell? Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her previous tales (Summer Island, 2001, etc.). Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.