Friday, June 16, 2023

Book Review: Esme Cahill Fails Spectacularly

By Allyson Bales

I am a little embarrassed to say that this is my first Marie Bostwick book (insert shy emoji here). Esme Cahill Fails Spectacularly completely captivated me and I immediately checked out Marie’s blacklist and am looking forward to starting The Restoration of Cecilia Fairchild next!  Bostwick has a way of really transforming you into her world and everything sort of melts away around you and I LOVE that!  I loved the way tougher topics were explored while also showcasing the more relatable topics like family dynamics and identity.

This story mainly follows Esme and her grandmother Adele, alternative in point of view, and I found myself really relating to Esme and also missing my grandmother so much.  The story transitions between past and present timelines and is a bit of historical and contemporary fiction.  Esme loses everything she always thought she wanted and needed in New York and heads back to Last Lake, a resort that her grandparents built in Asheville, North Carolina.  When she returns home she helps her family and really explores who she is and what really matters to her.  

When Esme first arrives in New York we get to meet Carl Zinfandel, the first senior editor that Esme works with, and I LOVED how he explains loving books.  He says,  “what reading is all about: finding connection, knowing we’re not the only ones who struggle, or dream.  You’ve got to understand other people before you can understand yourself.”  I found this quote so relatable and added it to my long list of book quotes I carry around in a journal. I felt so seen with this quote! 

When Esme arrived back at Last Lake I was completely enamored with the little lake resort.  My wife and I love to go on road trips and camp.  It's our favorite thing when we are able to find little lake towns exactly like this one and it was fun to follow along on the journey to restore the resort.  I also really enjoyed learning about the quilting process.  My grandmother was an avid quilter and I often read with one of her quilts draped over my legs.  It gave me a newfound understanding and appreciation for what she has made.  It is one of my most prized possessions and I love the deeper understanding I have for quilting now.   Adele really reminded me so much of my grandmother.  I found it so interesting that she lived for many years as a synesthete and I would have loved to learn more about that in the story.    

For so many of us like Esme, work is often an anecdote for pain and we run around going a hundred miles an hour with our hair on fire not stopping to catch our breath and remember what it is that we really want and need.  I found so much peace and understanding in Esme’s growth.  She may be one of my new favorites and I will miss her and George and everyone else at Last Lake. 

Thanks to William Morrow for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Marie Bostwick:

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Anonymous said...

susieqlaw; I love Marie’s books. I’ve read most of her backlist. She’s delightful!

Cathy Razor said...

I began reading Marie Bostwick with "a Thread so thin" and found it delightful and soothing. Next I read "Restoration of Celia Fairchild" and felt so much relief in my own life from the very moving story. Her books are wonderful. Can't wait to get my hands on "Esmie Cahill Falls Spectacularly" next.