Friday, June 21, 2013

Book Review: The Bow Wow Club

By Melissa Amster

If you asked me to read a book about widowhood prior to 2006, you would be turned down without a second thought. However, after reading P.S. I Love You (by Cecelia Ahern) that year, I got over my apprehension. Not that I want to be in the shoes of any of the characters who went through this experience, but I was able to cry for them and also cheer them on for coming out stronger in the end. Therefore, I was fully prepared to read The Bow Wow Club by Nicola May, so she can thank Cecelia Ahern for breaking me in to this theme.

Ruby (Matthews) Stevens, the heroine from Working it Out finally has a fulfilling job and the man of her dreams. Then something goes terribly wrong and she's left heartbroken. After a year of tears, moping and practically giving up on life, she's finally ready to get a new start with her life, thanks to the support of her best friend, Fi. A chance encounter with a handsome author, Michael Bell, throws her fragile heart into turmoil. When her grandmotherly neighbor encourages her to volunteer for the Bow Wow Club (Boyfriends of Widows, Wives of Widowers), Ruby encounters some new truths about herself and what it's like to move on after losing a loved one. She just doesn't expect a dark family secret and a completely unexpected love interest to add to her the confusion she's feeling.

Having read Working it Out a while back, it was nice to become reacquainted with Ruby and her friends. I also liked the new characters she introduced. Most of the British slang was similar, so I was able to follow it more easily, knowing what I knew from the first time around. Even if I hadn't read the previous novel, this story could easily stand on its own. There's enough back story from Working it Out to have this novel make sense and not become confusing. I had forgotten about some of the references she mentioned and it didn't bother me when they were brought up.

Through Ruby's thoughts and interactions, Nicola May gives readers and honest look at grief and trying to move on after losing a spouse. She took Ruby on a giant roller coaster of emotions between liking someone new and trying to be loyal to her deceased spouse. There were feelings of guilt and apprehension, as well as dug up memories, comparisons, etc. She'd take two steps forward, only to take five steps back. Even though the story started out sad, there were some humorous moments throughout. I found myself breezing through it and not wanting to put it down.

I had a few concerns though. The first was that there was another novel being written within and the writer was using real names, even though it was supposed to be fictional. That made things confusing at times because I wasn't sure if the writer was really writing fiction or if it was supposed to be an autobiography. All I know is that if my name were used in that book, whether it was positively or negatively, I would have been really upset over the breach of privacy. I also had concerns about a certain dialect being seen as offensive. It didn't personally offend me, but I could see others being offended by it if they are of the nationality being "impersonated." Some parts of the story were too good to be true (of course, I could just be cynical) and other parts were a bit predictable. Finally, I didn't really understand Ruby's role as a volunteer for the Bow Wow Club. I know she helped some people in the club with their problems, but I also felt she needed to be there for therapeutic reasons more than to put cookies on a table. It would have made more sense to just have her join the club as a member and benefit from it in that way, while still being altruistic towards others.

Overall, The Bow Wow Club is a sweet story and has some romantic moments, as well. I enjoyed getting to know Ruby better and hope she'll appear again in more of Nicola's novels. I like Nicola's writing style in general and look forward to reading her other novels soon.

Thanks to Nicola May for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Nicola May:

No comments: