Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Book Review: The Fairytale Life of Dorothy Gale

By Allyson Bales

Dorothy “Dee” Gale is searching for a place to belong. After their globe-trotting mother’s death, Dee and her sister Toni settled with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em in Kansas, where Dee attends graduate school. But when Dee’s relationship with a faculty member, a bestselling novelist, ends in heartbreak and humiliation, she’s caught in a tornado of negative publicity. Unable to face her colleagues—or her former lover—Dee applies to the writing program at Trinity College Dublin.

Dee’s journey to Ireland leads her to new companions: seemingly brainless Sam Clery—who dropped out of college and now runs a newsagent’s shop—is charming and hot, in a dissolute, Irish poet kind of way; allegedly heartless Tim Woodman—who stiffly refused to take back his ex-fiancée—seems stuck in his past; and fiercely loyal Reeti Kaur, who longs for the courage to tell her parents she wants to teach underprivileged girls rather than work in the family business.

In a year of opportunities and changes, love and loss, Dee is mentored by powerful women in the writing program, challenging her to see herself and her work with new eyes. With her friends, Dee finds the confidence to confront her biggest fears—including her intimidating graduate advisor, who may not be so wicked after all.

Faced with a choice with far-reaching consequences, Dee must apply the lessons she’s learned along the way about making a family, finding a home...and recognizing the power that’s been inside her all along. (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

This is my first Virginia Kantra book and I really, really enjoyed this wonderful reimagined modern day tale of The Wizard of Oz!  There are nods to the magical story but if you haven’t read it, watched the movie,or aren’t a fan, The Fairytale Life of Dorothy Gale is still a story you are going to want to read!  It has so much heart and Kantra’s writing really draws you in and I know you are going to love the character development and the Ireland scenery as much as I did!

This time of year I am always looking for holiday reads and getting myself into the holiday spirit.  While I am a huge lover of romantic stories, I am always looking for books that have a bit more going on than just the romance, and this read was absolutely perfect!  I also look for books that have the holidays in the storyline but need more happening with the plot and the characters.  Dee and her adventures to Ireland and all the characters met that need perfectly!  

One of my favorite festive movies is The Holiday.  This is largely because, like the holiday books I look for, the movie has the holidays in it, but that is not the central plotline.  I also love this movie and watch it every year, because of Kate Winslet’s character, Iris.  Iris is thoughtful and kind but also insecure and vulnerable and not the leading character in her own life and that is exactly like Dee in this book.  Both women have the best hearts and have so many loveable qualities but do not love themselves and I love going along with them on their journey of self discovery and growth!

Dee is from Kansas, and an aspiring writer, and she gets herself into a bit of a mess with a college professor.  She finds herself in a pretty bad place with negative publicity and heartache and decides to move to Emerald Isle Ireland.  There she meets a cast of characters that will steal your heart, and help her along on her journey.  You also get to meet her sister, and I loved how their dynamic is explored.  There is so much these characters have been through and I love how they grow and support each other.  I also loved getting a glimpse into Dee’s writing process.  The story within a story is one of my favorite themes!

I also really enjoyed the setting of this story so much!  I have always wanted to go to Ireland and Kantra’s descriptions really make you feel like you are right alongside Dee while she goes to bookstores and the Trinity college campus and cozy coffee shops. I really recommend you read the Author’s Note to hear more about Kantra’s thoughts about the book's location.

This book was the perfect read to kick off December! I also really recommend the audio.  Rachel L. Jacobs, Damian Gildea, and Christian Coulson really bring the story to life and I love all the different accents!

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review.

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