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Wednesday, June 28, 2006

****½ Drenched in Light by Lisa Wingate. Women's fiction.

See? There is some women's fiction I like. It's the one genre, though, where the subject matter makes the difference for me. In any other genre--mystery, romance, fantasy, science fiction, etc.--the subject doesn't usually change my opinion of a book, at least not more than marginally. It's usually the writing, and the author's voice that I respond to. I'm going to have to think about why the subject matters to me in women's fiction.

Drenched in Light is the 4th book in the Tending Roses series. I haven't read Tending Roses; I liked Good Hope Road very much; didn't like The Language of Sycamores; and really liked this one. Perhaps the difference is that Good Hope Road and Drenched in Light are more about beginnings.

Julia is working as a guidance counselor in a performing arts middle school, after years of eating disorders destroyed her career as a dancer. She's been coasting along, mourning her lost career and chafing against her parents' solicitude--feeling sorry for herself, in short. Then her sister gets pregnant, accelerating her wedding plans; a young girl (Dell, from the previous books) who's a gifted musician is failing her classes and the administration wants her out of the school--not least because she's not "the right sort"; and it becomes more and more obvious that there's a drug problem in the school that everyone is denying.

All those things make Julia focus on someone other than herself and her own problems, and she ends up discovering passion and drive for something besides dance. Especially important was that she took responsibility for her actions and decisions, both in the present and in the past.

The feeling of hope at the end of Drenched in Light is, I think, what women's fiction books in general are aiming for.

what I thought of it:

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