Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book Review: "Woman Last Seen in her Thirties" by Camille Pagán + GIVEAWAY

Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagán
Finished reading: February 5, 2018
Date Published: February 27, 2018
ISBN: 9781503936997
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Lake Union Publishing
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Heroines of a certain age, dry humor, novels about starting over

At fifty-three, Maggie Harris has a good marriage and two mostly happy children. Perpetually anxious, she’s also accumulated a list of semi-reasonable fears: falling air conditioners, the IRS, identity theft, skydiving, and airbag recalls. But never once did Maggie worry that her husband of nearly thirty years would leave her.

On the day Adam walks out the door, everything that makes Maggie secure goes with him. Only then does she realize that while she’s been busy caring for everyone else, she’s become invisible to the world—and to herself.

Maggie cautiously begins to rebuild her life with a trip to Rome, a new career, and even a rebound romance. But when a fresh crisis strikes and an uncertain future looms, she must decide: How much will she risk to remain the woman she’s just become?

My Thoughts:
There are certain events that will cause a person to grow and change, and Maggie is in the midst of one of those events.  This is certainly not the first such book I've read.  In fact, it's not even the first one I've read in the last 12 months (the other, Lift and Separate by Marilyn Simon Rothstein, I quite enjoyed).  So, there is a struggle to make these books interesting and unique, while still keeping them relevant.

Pagán succeeds with this book.  This novel is truly a study in how a person can grow and change when their life is turned upside down.    Despite having a similar plot to Lift and Separate, the book that I found myself comparing this one to was, strangely, Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love.  Fortunately, this book was a much more successful work for me, for many reasons.  For one thing, Maggie is likable and free of rampant narcissism.  Secondly, despite this book being fiction and Gilbert's being memoir, this was far more believable.

Pagán takes the time to develop Maggie as an evolving character.  When we first meet her, she's almost shut down--shell shocked at the abrupt and confusing end to her marriage.  From there, her life is anything but a straight line.  Maggie doesn't always make the right decisions, but she does come through when it counts.  Watching her grow as the book progresses is a joy.

There is a moderately sized cast of supporting characters and Pagán is very smart about how she handles them.  They are each developed...enough.  While none fall flat, neither are any developed to the point that they begin to eclipse upon Maggie's position in her own story. Instead, they serve their purposes perfectly and in a way that highlights and enhances Maggie's development.

This was an incredibly satisfying read for me and one that I would readily recommend.  If you enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love, you would probably enjoy this.  If you hated Eat, Pray, Love, you would probably enjoy this book even more.  Either way, give it a try.

I was given a copy of this book in return for an honest review.  I received no other compensation for this post.  

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing, I have a hardcover copy of Woman Last Seen in Her Thirties by Camille Pagán!

This giveaway is open until March 6th and is open to readers in the US.

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