Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate

Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate
Copyright 2008
Bethany House Fiction
359 pages
Author's website

Who knew what could happen to a lone woman here, where it was impossibly dark and there was no one to hear you scream? Ursula probably wouldn't even report me missing. I'd be like one of those people who fall off cruise ships and three days later someone says, Hey, Joe hasn't been sleeping in his bed. Has anyone seen Joe?

"Oh, for heaven's sake, Harlan, you expect us to swallow that?" I said. "It's more likely Brother Ervin's been eating too many of them pickled raisins with his breakfast." Ervin soaks brown raisins in white gin and eats them for medicinal purposes. It's supposed to cure arthritis, so everyone looks the other way, even though Ervin's our Baptist preacher. I don't hold it against him, and God probably don't, either. Being the Baptist preacher in a small town would drive anyone to eat gin-soaked raisins, eventually.

What led you to pick up this book? I read one book by Lisa Wingate, a couple of years ago, and have meant to read more by her. Opportunity knocked; I opened the door and let the book walk in.

Summarize the plot but don't give away the ending. Mandalay Florentino has a decent job as an associate producer for the hit TV show American Megastar and a nasty boss who demands perfection. When she's sent to tiny Daily, Texas, to prepare for gospel singer Amber Anderson's hometown reunion concert -- which must be kept quiet because the top 5 contestants have not yet been announced -- Manda is none too thrilled. News travels like wildfire in tiny Daily and she's stuck sharing a suite with a charming man whom she suspects may be paparazzi. When the "secret" of Amber's top-5 standing appears to be common knowledge in Daily, Manda realizes she has a challenge on her hands. Can she find a way to sneak Amber back into Daily for the concert and keep her job? And, what is she going to do about that gorgeous cowboy she keeps running into?

Imagene Doll is feeling old and tired, unsure life is worth living after the loss of her beloved husband, Jack. When a slick young gal from Hollywood shows up in Daily, Imagene takes to her immediately. And, that young fellow seems just right for her. A little bit of match-making might just be what the doctor ordered. But, the young gal may need even more help than expected.

What did you like most about the book? There is a great deal to love about Talk of the Town. The small-town dynamics, the characters, the humor and understanding of real life, real people and their emotions . . . and the story is just flat fun, but there were times it was so touching that it brought tears to my eyes. I laughed, I cried, I adored this story.

What did you think of the characters? They're wonderful! Imagene calls Mandalay "Amanda Lee" and I think the fact that Manda never corrects her is just one example of what a nice person she is. Everyone bands together nicely, in the way that small-town people often do. They're unique and quirky, but honest. I had a tiny bit of trouble getting used to the two viewpoints; each chapter is told in alternating voice -- first Mandalay, then Imagene, then back to Mandalay, etc. But, by the third chapter, I was comfortable switching viewpoints and the chapters were conveniently labeled with the name of the character from whose point-of-view one was reading. And, they grew on me rapidly. I liked both women and enjoyed reading their thoughts. Amber was a touch too sweet to believe, but she actually didn't appear till near the end of the book, so I didn't choke on the sugar.

Recommended? Highly! I loved this book. Because it's another Bethany House book, there is a Christian element, but again . . . Christianity is just a part of their lives. There isn't any preaching, although there's the occasional moment of musing about God and how He figures into things, but that could show up in any Southern novel. The book is not overtly Christian; it's just a fun bit of Southern fiction with some funny characters. Talk of the Town would be an excellent book for the Southern Reading Challenge, next time around. It is apparently the beginning of a series, so I'm really looking forward to seeing what else Lisa Wingate has up her sleeve.

Cover thoughts: Bethany House does is, again! I think their covers are wonderful. The character on the right side of the cover looks very much like the description of Mandalay. The little town of Daily is nicely illustrated. And, the two old ladies are a hoot -- there are plenty of women who fit their description, but Imagene and her best friend are probably the two women the artist intended to show gossiping. Perfect!

Coming up: August reads in review

Currently reading:
The Words of War by Donagh Bracken (I will finish this book soon, oh yes I will)
The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

Books spotted in other folks' hands, whilst on the plane and in the airport:
A John Grisham
A Daniel Silva
The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
Buddha Takes No Prisoners (about meditation; didn't catch the author's name)

Oddly, the man who was reading a book on meditation left a space between his wife's seat (by the window) and his seat on the aisle; he was hoping they wouldn't have to share their set of three seats on our Southwest flight and proclaimed victory when nobody asked him to move over. We shared our third seat and ended up with a sweet, chatty woman who was heading out to celebrate her 30th birthday without the kids. I personally believe we were the winners in that deal. We had a fun time chatting with our seat-mate.

I just spent an hour trying to rescue my son from the school hallway. Apparently one tornado warning has blended into another. Meanwhile, we have water from Gustav's downpours backing up outside our house. We've been flooded several times and I'm irritated because the husband simply will not fix the drainage mess he made. I tried bailing, but it didn't work so I'm waiting for (deeply in trouble) spouse to come home and we'll go look for a pump. Gah. I hate tropical hurricany stormy depression rains. And, we need cat litter. You can only wait so long to fetch fresh litter, once it runs out. Calgon, take me away.

Off to tiptoe through the puddles,

Bookfool, sloshy and tired of rain and not very wahooey


  1. OK, this book has just landed on my wish list. I've read a few by Lisa Wingate and really enjoyed them.

    Hope you get bailed out soon!

  2. Lynne,

    It's really a breath of fresh air. I had such fun reading this book!

    It finally stopped raining and the water drained off quickly, but I still sent the husband out for a pump. I said, "Enough already. I am so not going to stand around trying to bail water with a pan, ever again." He headed to Home Depot, so I guess I don't have to divorce him. That's good, since it would be a pain to load up all that furniture, again. ;)

  3. This book is on my TBR shelf. I think I will put it on my Fall Reading Challenge List. So sorry about your water issues, my aunt was really worried about their roof but I think it turned out okay. She has a lot of other problems right now so that is a relief. I will email you the details if you want them.

  4. Yikes! Do you have a basement that's flooding? Oh, my, that's my worst nightmare!! Sure hope that rain stops soon. We got an inch yesterday morning, but I'm sure that's nothin' compared to y'all.

    And just where were you flying to on that Southwest Flight? Inquiring minds wanna know. :)

  5. Brittanie,

    Talk of the Town is so good. I'm sure you'll love it!

    We lucked out, this time -- the rain finally stopped and the water drained off. Bailing with a pail just was not working, so I was relieved when it stopped pouring!!

    Sure, write me about your aunt. Is she in Madison, too, or farther south?


    We don't have basements, here; it was around the bedrooms that we were having trouble. We've been flooded several times since David screwed up our drainage by adding dirt to the one garden I told him not to mess with (I still don't get that). It's okay, now; it stopped raining and has drained off enough that it's not a big worry, although we probably have moisture under the floors. We've got floating wood floors, now, so at least the flooring is above the foundation -- the only concern is that it will dry out so we don't get mold underneath. That would suck if it molded. LOL

    It rained buckets for 3 days. I'm so glad it's stopped; I hope Gustav is done with us!!

    We flew from Jackson to Houston to Tulsa, so we'd only have to drive one way and we could share the driving time in the rental truck. The seat hogs were on the Jackson to Houston leg. Our chatty gal was loads of fun. :)

  6. Gustav just has to go away already! I hope your house is ok and that the rain goes away soon. What a mess. The rains have finally stopped here, though we're expected to have more in the next couple of days. I'm just glad that you've been safe so far...I was worried about y'all too. I know we always share the same weather!

    Funny about your flight partners. I love these people that read all of these buddhist books and practice the total opposite in their lives. It truly cracks me up :p

  7. Chris,

    I know! Stupid Gustav just keeps hanging around. We're okay here. It stopped raining and the backed-up water drained away pretty rapidly, but we're way beyond saturation point and yep . . . he's supposed to loop back. I am so sick of Gustav! Thanks for thinking of us. We share some pretty awful weather, don't we? I'm thinking maybe the Midwest is calling my name! LOL

    Isn't that hilarious about the Buddha reader? I was thinking, "Buddha takes no prisoners and doesn't share seats?" Maybe both the book and the empty seat are signs that fellow really needs to learn how to chill!!!

  8. No fun! I wouldn't be very wahooey either. Well, I'm not very wahooey even though we haven't had (much) rain (yet). It is cold, though, and that makes me non-wahooey. Despite my complaints about the heat I would rather have that than the cold. Boo!

    By the way, if you don't mind I might "borrow" your review format for a post...?

  9. It sounds like a romance. Bah. :)

    Buddha needs his space. Maybe the guy was just really in touch with what he needs to work on - - and doesn't? lol I hate when people sit next to me and I'm chatty.

  10. Trish,

    The sun came out for 20 whole minutes, today! Wahoo! It's gone, but we appreciated it while it lasted.

    I just got an email from my brother-in-law in OK and he said the same thing you did -- not thrilled with it suddenly dropping down to the 60s. It didn't cool off that much, here, of course! I would have loved some nice, brisk air. I was sweating in my raincoat, yesterday.

    Of course you can borrow my format. I can't even remember where I got that, but I "borrowed" it from someone else (and never gave it back, LOL).


    It's really more of a small-town story about two women figuring out their lives. The romance is a side item, which I thought was really well done because it never overwhelms what I consider to be the "real" plot. But, you know, still . . . you'll like The Last Queen better, since you were obviously at least a princess in a former life.

    LOL! Yeah, maybe he needed space to meditate. Although, the fact that he was bragging to his wife that they got away without having to share makes me think he really just needed to ease up and there's good reason he's got that book. Poor stressed puppies of the world.

    You can sit by me and we'll fight for air time. I can be very chatty, some days (then again, sometimes I just nod a lot).

  11. Ick--there is nothing worse than hot and wet!! We're usually humid here but we still haven't gotten a lot of rain and with the cooler weather the humidity isn't as big of a deal. I'm freezing my little patootey off, though!!

    And thanks. :)

  12. Trish,

    Yeah, ick. The mosquitoes are going to be feasting on us. I'd love to freeze my patootey off! I'm ready to pack up and head to a cold state -- one that gets snow!!

    You're welcome. :)

  13. Great review. I like Lisa Wingate, so I'm definitely adding this to my to-read list!

  14. Holly,

    Thank you! Talk of the Town was just my second read by Wingate. Now, I'm aching to read more; it was such a fun book!

  15. Ah, this book sounds cute. I will have to keep it on my radar.
    Hope it's stopped raining!

  16. Iliana,

    It's a really upbeat, sweet book. I absolutely loved it.

    I think it's stopped raining -- not sure! We were getting a fine, misty rain, earlier. I liked that a whole lot better than the gusher we had for three days. :)


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