Sunday, October 7, 2012

Book Review: Tea-Olive Bird-Watching Society

I once read a post by a blogger listing all the things on his no-no list about posting reviews, and one of them was: "Starting a review with 'I really wanted to like this book.'" He went on to say that we all want to like a book—that's why we read them, right?

But here's the thing: some books we want to like more than others. Some books we have some kind of personal relationship with before reading—it's on all the best-seller lists, your friend recommended it with highest praise, etc. Or, in this case, it's your book club's next book.

So, I really wanted to like  Tea-Olive Bird-Watching Society by Augusta Trobaugh. I want to either love a book club book, or I want to hate it. Either way makes for great discussion. But this one? I don't really have a lot to say about it, certainly nothing passionate.

Tea-Olive is the tiny southern town. The bird-watching society party, a group of widowed or never-married women, was never developed much beyond the first couple of chapters and the mention of a bird sanctuary. It is in this sanctuary where the ladies spy on their newly married friend, who is in a terrible, abusive relationship with her thieving new husband. Right off the bat, I had a hard time identifying with the characters, who were all named from hymnals: Sweet Bye-and-Bye, Beulah Land, Marching to Zion. They automatically seemed goofy with such names.

I predict, however, that this book will be a big hit with my book club. It's cute. It's portrayal of domestic violence is polite—enough to make the reader sympathize with Sweet, but not so graphic that we feel outraged or contaminated. In fact, the whole book is too polite for my taste, too unrealistic.

If you liked the Miss Julia books by Ann Ross, I recommend this one for sure.


Anonymous said...

Well, I do indeed like Miss Julia books, but this one seems a little too sweet!

Christine said...

A bit off topic... Just a note from a fellow Kate Morton fan... do you know that she has a new book out called The Secret Keeper? You may have already heard about it, but I just saw it in the bookstore today and thought of your reviews of her other books. I love her writing too.

I wasn't sure how to let you know about the book so I decided I'd just post a comment here. Hope that's okay!

Sarah Small said...

Yes, thank you, Christine!! I have been following her on Facebook and am looking forward to The Secret Keeper! SO exciting!!