5 July 2012
Book Review: The Meryl Streep Movie Club by Mia March
This is one debut novel I've been really looking forward to reading for a while now, so I was thrilled to receive a review copy from the publishers a few weeks ago. I think the cover is lovely, really fresh and bright and would certainly make me want to pick it up in a shop and find out more. I happen to really love Meryl Streep and her movies, so I was curious how the author Mia March would be able to weave Meryl's movies into the story and not make it seem like they were just there for the sake of it. As soon as I began reading the book, my fears just melted away because it was a fantastic read, and I loved every page, not wanting it to end!
The book is the story of the women of one family, each going through their own personal turmoil but being united by the weekly Meryl Streep Movie Club held at their guesthouse. There's family matriarch Lolly, who has her own daughter but took in her nieces when they were children after their parents were killed. The three girls think Lolly's distant and not overly affectionate, but when she summons them all to the guesthouse for a surprise announcement, they are left wondering what it could be. Lolly's daughter Kat is running her own cake business but is struggling with her love life and the expectations put on her. Her cousin Isabel, living a comfortable life and married to husband Edward is about to get a shock, one that will make her question everything she thought was true, and welcomes the break at Aunt Lolly's guesthouse. Then there's her sister June, a single mother to son Charlie, and whose heart is still in the past and damaged. Will June be able to find answers to hers (and Charlie's) questions, and will the Meryl Streep movie club make the four women closer again?
What I loved about this book is how much it relies to family to work, and highlights the importance of letting your family take care of you when you really need them. None of the women in the story are especially close at the beginning of the book - sisters Isabel and June don't even speak unless they're at a family occasion, and Lolly and Kat aren't exactly a close mother and daughter. Yet events throughout the book enable the women to let down the boundaries they have built up and finally let the others in to help them, even if they can't be of much use, just for emotional support. I loved each of the female characters in the book, Mia March has written them to be really likeable and I found myself feeling sad along with Isabel and June, frustrated along with Kat and accepting along with Lolly.
My favourite character was certainly Isabel. She's a bit of a snob at the start of the book, someone you can't expect to like but as the book goes on, I really warmed to her and felt sorry for her due to her circumstances. She is really going through a bad time, and I liked her development throughout the book. I really enjoyed reading June's story as well, how well she does as a single mother and her wanting to find Charlie's father - that was an intriguing storyline and it was really fun to read too. Lolly and Kat were also well written characters, and the mother-daughter relationship wasn't at all perfect which I am sure a lot of women will be able to relate to in different ways. The chapters are all written from different perspectives too, all in the third person, but the change allows the reader to get more involved in each of the stories, and I found it really fun to read.
The issues in the book were all written so incredibly well. I don't want to go into any real detail here to avoid spoilers, but I found all the themes weren't easy but were weaved into the book beautifully and were each important for their characters in their own ways. I found the way March used Meryl Streep's movies at exactly the right part of the book to be fantastic, I haven't seen some of the movies but they are each perfect for the time they appear and for the characters to see something in them that helps them too. The whole thing is just beautifully written, from the lovely descriptions of Lolly and Kat's guesthouse, to the small town they live in - it all sounds perfect, and a great cast of likeable characters make it even better. This book will be a keeper on my shelf as I know I'll want to read it again, and this is certainly up there amongst my favourite reads this year, it's fab!
You can buy The Meryl Streep Movie Club as a paperback or an eBook now.