Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: The Whole Package

By Amy Bromberg

Ever since high school Jackie, Doris and Cheryl have been the closest of friends. Now, 40 years later, they reunite, and life has not turned out the way they planned. After Jackie’s husband dies, she takes off to Paris to restart her artist career. When she gets a call from George, her husband’s lawyer, saying all of her husband’s money has been depleted, she returns home, broke and has no idea what to do with her life. Ever since Doris’ mother passed away, she has turned into a prude and unhappy wife, watching her husband leave to go “find himself” and dealing with an ungrateful daughter. Instead of taking care of herself, and going after her dreams, she suffers from panic attacks and heads for the chocolates. One would think Cheryl has the life. She is one of the top executives at her marketing firm, that she has helped build from the bottom up. She is also usually “on top” of her game in the bedroom. But after a wrongful termination, where is she to go?

After Jackie, Cheryl and Doris reunite, they end up going for a girl’s night out at a strip club. Next thing you know they come up with a great idea – why not open a “Hooter” themed restaurant but for women, and call it The Whole Package? Who says only men get to have fun? The ladies end up putting their heads together, doing some research, and before you knew it was opening night…but to say things didn’t go so well is an understatement.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Whole Package." It makes you realize how important the power of friendship is. Having close friends, even if it’s one or two, makes your world that much more special. When I think of qualities that explain my closest friends, they are being there for me, telling me like it is (even if I don’t want to hear it), supportive, and last but not least, they are genuine. And these traits illustrate the bond between these three women. Even with the ups and downs, that all friends go through, in the end they always stick by each other. Despite these women dealing with some tough issues, such as teenage drama, financial difficulties, job loss and marital separation, Cynthia’s words are not all gloom and doom. However they do make you think, which is what most people want out of a book right?

This story reminds me SO much of the movie “The First Wives Club.” If you have not seen it, and you are a chick lit fan, I’m not sure what you are waiting for. Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler and Diane Keaton reunite twenty plus years after college. They have been screwed over by their husbands. They want them to pay for their mistakes, and they come up with a plan. For a short while their new business venture seems to be going well, and things start to look up. However, after some bitter fighting, and only thinking about themselves, they realize they were going about it all wrong, just as the three women in this book realize.

My only criticism is the middle was a bit slow, when the characters were planning, and sorting through the details for setting up the restaurant. But overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book, a heart-warming story with some added comedy relief. I take away from this book the following. We must learn to love ourselves before others can love us. Bad things will happen in your life, but with loving support from close friends, you can get through almost anything. In the end women always rule, and always have each other’s backs. A big hooray to Cynthia Ellingsen, for an entertaining, enjoyable, and genuine novel. I’m very much looking forward to more of Cynthia’s work.

Check out Cynthia's guest post and enter to win a copy of "The Whole Package." (US/Canada only. Ends 11/20.)

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