Forced outdoors by cabin fever during a spring snowstorm, five suburban women plunge into a spontaneous evening snowball fight. When they come inside later to warm up, a remarkable set of friendships is launched—one that will span 30 years and three tumultuous decades of social change.
As in previous bestsellers such as Patty Jane's House of Curl and The Great Mysterious, Lorna Landvik sets her fifth novel in her native small-town Minnesota, where she meticulously chronicles the activities of the Freesia Court Book Club and the lives of its five members: Faith, Audrey, Merit, Slip and Kari (as in car, not care). The book club is not-so-lovingly renamed Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Merit's husband, who is jealous of her friendship with the other women. From the spring of 1968 through the fall of 1998, the book club members read selections as eclectic as the women themselves—from Soul on Ice to Middlemarch to Stephen King's The Stand.
Living through the era of the Vietnam war, the protest movement and women's liberation, the five friends take on such problems as domestic violence, infidelity, homophobia and empty nests, bolstered by the restorative powers of friendship. Landvik looks back at the childhood experiences of the book club members and follows along as they raise children of their own—from the annual neighborhood circus through college acceptances and careers, all accompanied by a host of maternal fears and worry. So convincing are the details that readers will try to guess what Audrey might wear to book club meetings and predict what Slip will think of the books.
Readers might feel a twinge of sadness and loss as they turn the last page of Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons—finishing this book is like leaving five dear friends.
Alice Pelland writes from Hillsborough, North Carolina. Copyright 2003 BookPage Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2003 January #1
Five friends and three decades, as Landvik (Welcome to the Great Mysterious, 2000, etc.) returns to small-town Minnesota.Little Women, anyone? Alcott's females are an inspiration for the Freesia Court Book Club members, though there are two contenders for the role of rambunctious Jo and none for meek Beth. Gathering at the Minneapolis hospital where one of the five is undergoing treatment for cancer, they remember the dreary, endless winter they first got together, back when their kids were young and they all lived on the same tree-lined street. Mopping up baby food and stroking the egos of their self-involved husbands just didn't seem all that fulfilling. Gee-whiz, what a surprise. But love and laughter--and friends and family--carried them through the chaotic years that changed a nation in so many ways . . . . Similar platitudes and preaching undermine the weak structure of this baggy tale and its multiple points of view, chapters linked by popular books of the time. The five friends, beginning in the late '60s, are introduced one by one. Audrey Forrest is happy with her lush curves but her husband Paul thinks she's fat. Angelically beautiful Merit Iverson smokes like a chimney, despite her doctor husband's disapproval. Scrappy Faith Owens is sick and tired of husband Wade's smugness, not to mention packing his suitcases (he's an airline pilot). Kari Nelson, a gentle young widow, grieves over her husband Bjorn's untimely death and their infertility. Slip McMahon is an ultrafit jockette, happily married to a research meteorologist, and just loves the freaky Minnesota weather. As time goes by, Audrey gets a divorce and finds new friends (two gay men); Merit ditches the abusive and dominating doctor; Faith comes to terms with her mixed feelings about her long-lost mother; Kari adopts a mixed-race child; Slip becomes a social worker. The world changes but all remain tight, all the way to menopause and telltale gray hairs.Overlong trek over familiar ground. Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Library Journal Reviews 2002 November #1
At the heart of this new work from the popular Landvik (Welcome to the Great Mysterious) is the Freesia Court Book Club, whose five women members go through a lot together. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 March # 2
Five friends live through three decades of marriages, child raising, neighborhood parties, bad husbands and good brownies-and Landvik (Patty Jane's House of Curl) doesn't miss a single cliché as she chronicles their lives in this pleasant but wholly familiar novel of female bonding. When Faith Owens's husband is transferred from Texas to the "stupid godforsaken frozen tundra" of Freesia Court, Minn., in 1968, her life looks like it's going to be one dull, snowy slog-until the power goes out one evening and a group of what appear to be madwomen start a snowball fight in her backyard. These dervishes turn out to be her neighbors: antiwar activist Slip; sexpot Audrey; painfully shy Merit; and widow Kari. They become fast friends and decide to escape their humdrum routine by starting the Freesia Court Book Club, later given the eponymous name by one of their disgruntled husbands. As the years pass, Audrey and Merit get divorced, Kari adopts her niece's illegitimate baby, all five of the women find work outside their homes and they even smoke a joint together. Their personal dramas are regularly punctuated by reflections on political milestones ("First Martin Luther King, Jr., then Bobby Kennedy. As if we didn't have enough to worry about with this stupid war..."). While some scenes are touching and genuinely funny, readers of Fannie Flagg, Rita Mae Brown, Rebecca Wells and many imitators will feel that they've seen this before. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.