Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review: The Meryl Streep Movie Club

By Melissa Amster

There's something so inviting about a bowl of popcorn and a cozy couch, which is why I was drawn in to reading Mia March's debut novel, The Meryl Streep Movie Club. Wait...who am I kidding? I LOVE movies and the fact that this book was about a movie CLUB was enough to grab my attention right away! Needless to say, the story was impossible to put down!

One summer weekend, two sisters are summoned to the home (and bed and breakfast) of their aunt and cousin, with whom they've been living since their parents died in a car accident that also claimed their uncle. Their aunt has news for everyone, something she even kept from her own daughter until this time. Isabel welcomes the opportunity to flee from her husband, whom she caught cheating. She's not sure whether to be sad or relieved, since their marriage went downhill after she threw a wrench into their secret pact. Her sister, June, works at a bookstore and the branch where she felt safest is closing down, taking her home along with it. She also is trying to find the father of her child and what she finds out about him will affect all the hopes and dreams she's been holding on to since the day he abandoned her. Their cousin, Kat, wants to start her own bakery. She's been best friends with Oliver ever since they were kids. Now he promises to give her everything she wants, but in the wake of her mother's announcement, she's not so sure she wants it. Meanwhile, the women and their aunt/mother gather to watch and discuss Meryl Streep films, which may be holding the answers they've been looking for all along.

I had heard about this novel almost a year before it was published and was definitely intrigued. I wouldn't say Meryl Streep is my favorite actress of all time, but she is very talented and I've seen a bunch of movies she starred in. However, the largest draw to the novel was finding out what would happen for each of the women. They all had intriguing and even heartbreaking stories. Each character was interesting and sympathetic in her own way and I looked forward to seeing what would happen for them. I was worried that I'd have to wait too long between each woman's chapter to find out what was going on in their life, but through the other chapters, I'd find out bits and pieces of what was going on with them. In the meantime, there were little cliffhangers to keep me guessing until their turn came up again. The story was beautifully written and I even cried without expecting to. (I won't say why as to not spoil things.) There were some really touching moments that just seemed effortless from the author's end. It was like the words just flowed out of her and she knew how to access some genuine emotions. It balanced out the moments that actually were sappy (those "Hallmark" moments that require the music at the end of a Full House episode). Also, the descriptions were great. I could practically taste Kat's delicious cupcakes and smell the sea mist while walking around the town by the harbor. I could even feel the heat from the last days of summer. (Perfect for winter months like this.)

While I enjoyed the way the events of the women's lives tied in to the movies they were watching, I also felt those parts were forced. During the times they talked about the movies, the dialogue did not seem as realistic. Compared to the effortlessness of the other parts of this novel, it felt like Mia was trying too hard during these scenes. Also, if you have not yet seen certain movies that they watched and don't want spoilers, you may need to skip over those parts. I am not a fan of spoilers, but I will admit that Mia had me intrigued about some movies that I would have never thought to watch before. Aside from that, things wrapped up a bit too neatly in the end, but I didn't mind because it was such a great story overall!

And since this book is all about movies, I could even see it being cast as a movie. (Instead of books within books, this could be movies within a movie....) If I were the casting director, I would choose...
Isabel: Claire Danes (I just pictured her the entire time I was reading this novel. I saw a picture of her in a magazine where her hair was darker and that just sealed the deal for me!)
June: Larisa Oleynik (I haven't seen her around on the big screen in a while, but she has this soft look that would work well for June. I also think someone who isn't as huge of a name in the media should play this role.)
Kat: Emma Stone (Same as for Claire Danes as Isabel, this was who I pictured based on descriptions and age range. Now that she's gone blonde, it works even better!)
Lolly: Blythe Danner (She just works well for this part.)

My casting choices differ greatly from Mia's (see our interview from last year), but that makes it even more fun!

Overall, I loved The Meryl Streep Movie Club and am eagerly anticipating Finding Colin Firth this summer!

Thanks to Simon and Schuster for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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fredamans said...

This is one I would read too and for all the same reasons. Glad you enjoyed it, gives me something to look forward to. Now to get a copy....

Anonymous said...

I love Meryl Streep, and the characters and their stories sound interesting - definitely being added to my reading list! Thank you for the review :)