In Vista Heights, the women of the neighborhood have started to look like their homes, varying shades of beige. Lost in this world of suburbia, Marissa Lyons learns her high school nemesis has bought the house right across the street from her. Afraid that her arch enemy, Beatrice Munson, will move in with Marissa’s high school crush as her husband and cause Marissa to relive the insecurity of high school in her forties, she decides to face the music and heads to Beatrice’s house with warm cupcakes. But what Marissa finds is something she never expected. How will Marissa and the rest of the women of San Martino deal with someone like Beatrice Munson, whose defining moment in her life was to get a boob job or go on a trip to Egypt. This story is about friendship, love, learning to look at things differently, and great parties. Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them. (from Goodreads)
When Lorena Bathey was looking for reviewers, for her book “Beatrice Munson”, I jumped at the opportunity. Many months ago, as I was cruising around on Goodreads, I came across “Beatrice Munson”, and immediately fell in love with the cover! I think the cover is beautiful, and enticing, and is among my favourite book covers. Lorena Bathey generously mailed the book to me, in exchange for an honest review. I could not wait for the book to arrive!! And when the book did arrive, just holding the book in my hand brought a smile to my face. Then I started to read about Beatrice, and all the ladies in the community of San Martino, a suburb of San Francisco.
Lorena Bathey’s narrator, Marissa Lyons, is a character who captured my heart in the very first paragraph, (truly, she did!). I identified with part of her story, of her high school experiences, and her challenge to find her true place in life.
The character of Beatrice Munson moved into a house across the street from Marissa Lyons. Once Beatrice settled into her home, decorated in her own personal style, Marissa came for a visit. The vision of Beatrice’s house was described through Marissa’s voice. I say vision, because that is the word that came to mind, as I read Lorena Bathey’s beautiful description of Beatrice’s house. It was a house that I wanted to be in, a living room that I wanted to settle into a chair, with a cup of coffee, and a really good book. Lorena’s talent with words drew me into the San Martino community, made me feel welcomed.
The action in this novel moved smoothly and quickly. The only reason I did not finish the book in one sitting, was because family commitments called me away. But I did finish the book in my second sitting – reading into the wee hours of the morning! I could not go to sleep without knowing how everyone’s life turned out!
In following the characters’ daily lives, the reader sees how each character develops. The enjoyable thing was that Lorena Bathey showed this development through conversation and action, rather than pages of description. The humour in “Beatrice Munson” is at times elegantly displayed, in beautiful phrases that bring the reader further into the world of all the San Martino ladies. Sentences like this:
“….Graydon was like the high dive in the male dating pool, and on the female scale I was about halfway down to the deep end with floaties on my arms.”
I laughed out loud, and re-read the line a few times before moving on! Lorena Bathey also brings humour and memories together:
“Her hair was teased up to the level of a Jiffy Pop popcorn container,….”
Ah, yes, Jiffy Pop foil container just about ready to burst, before Mom removed it from the stove, cut the foil, and we dived in – nice memories, and an excellent description of a hair style! The book description on the back cover, also part of the Goodreads summary, reads: “Step into the world of Vista Heights where you might recognize the women, or you might be one of them.” And that happened to me as I read through the book. A couple of times I found myself thinking, “hmmm, that sounds like (insert name)” and “oh, my goodness, that’s me!” Such is the gentle, yet powerful, word pictures created by this author. Talent, pure talent. In my book reviews, I do not like to give books a ‘number rating’, or a ‘star rating’, rather I stay with word recommendations, (or not!). And fiction is so personal; each person experiences the story through their own life experiences. But with all that said, if I was to give “Beatrice Munson” a number rating, it would definitely be 5 out of 5, in my mind, without question, a 5 star rating. So, my recommendation to my readers is to definitely read “Beatrice Munson” by Lorena Bathey, and enjoy!!
Where is the Joy of the Written Word in this book? The answer is: from cover to cover, from beginning to end.