Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Ladies Temperance Club Farewell Tour by Jeff Lee

The promotional blurb for this book reads "Think Thelma and Louise meets Lucy and Ethel."  That's about all the review you need for this book. The premiere ladies-getting-back-at-the-world movie combined with the premiere comedy duo of all time is a great description.  The basic premise:  An abused woman with an alcoholic boyfriend stands up for herself by crushing his neanderthal head with a football trophy.  Friends help her dispose of the body, and it's time for a road trip. I really liked the story and the characters.

I love a book that deals with a serious theme but doesn't take itself too seriously.  It would have been far to easy for Lee to make an overwhelming and bitterly biting book attempting to assault the reader with its pure and honorable significance.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of those flavor-of-the-month, pedantic, self-promoting works of vanity out there.  Lee doesn't fall into the trap.  He realizes he's writing a book, here, and the premise is far more geared toward developing the characters and showing their quirks than making any kind of comment on society.  Take a gander at this excerpt:

Let’s see…” Francine thumbed through some of the ads in the tourist guide.
We’ve got Sluts on Ice at the Tropicana.”
She turned the page.
Naked Sluts on Ice at Caesar’s.”
She turned the page again.
Or Forbidden Naked Sluts on Ice at the Rio.”
Kay and Vonda exchanged a pair of noncommittal shrugs. It didn’t make much
sense to either of them. After all, they could see the same thing for free in the RV’s
shower – minus the two-drink minimum, the choreography and all those silicone
Honey,” Vonda topped off her glass. “If it’s all the same, I don’t feel much like
seeing anything naked. Or on ice.”
Okay…” Francine continued thumbing through her complimentary tourist
guide. “But it ain’t gonna be easy.” 

I just love the satire.  I love the comment about the shower minus the silicone.  It's good stuff.  It would be way too easy to preach at us.  Come on, the book is about a woman who kills her abuser.  How can an author avoid it?  Lee does a heck of a job letting us feel the outrage and the empathy without directing us to.  I was very impressed.  The ending was a little more subtle than I expected, but hey, driving off a cliff has already been done, and RV's are a whole lot harder to drive than convertibles.

This is the first thing I've read by Lee, but you can bet it won't be the last.

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