A witty, honest, and hugely entertaining story for anyone who loves books, or has a difficult mother. And, let’s face it, that’s practically everybody . . . On paper, Arabella Hicks seems more than qualified to teach her fiction class on the Upper West Side: she’s a writer herself; she’s passionate about books; she’s even named after the heroine in a Georgette Heyer novel. On the other hand, she’s thirty-eight, single, and has been writing the same book for the last seven years. And she has been distracted recently: on the same day that Arabella teaches her class she also visits her mother in a nursing home outside the city. And every time they argue. Arabella wants the fighting to stop, but, as her mother puts it, “Just because we’re family, doesn’t mean we have to like each other.” When her class takes a surprising turn and her lessons start to spill over into her weekly visits, she suddenly finds she might be holding the key to her mother’s love and, dare she say it, her own inspiration. After all, as a lifelong lover of books, she knows the power of a good story.
Honestly, I didn’t care for this book. The characters were static and I couldn’t get into the protagonist. Her love life seemed without real meaning or depth. That said, there is one character I love and I believe she is the real main character; Vera Hicks.
Vera Hicks is Arabella’s elderly mother who lives in a nursing home and decides to write her own story. She is inspired by her daughter and her daughter’s class. We see her as slightly difficult, but not as bitter as Arabella likes to perceive. I found Vera to be the most human character. And through her, Arabella is better understood.
This is interesting because most books would have the main character be the person who is focused more, but really, this book twists it a bit. I did have tears threaten to appear in the end, but once again it was because of Vera. Not Arabella. In the case of their relationship, the book is good. In the case of the relationship of Arabella and everyone else? It’s dodgy.
The exercises were fun; the proof being that I did dabble in them for a bit. But, ultimately, I felt the story was lacking in something. It did end and the ending was beautiful, but the overall story felt lacking. I can’t quite pinpoint it.