(Women's Contemporary Fiction)
This review is posted in conjunction with the author's virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $10 Wild Child gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter. Click the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Lilike Avrill Lansing is damaged. She is also unemployed, barely surviving a loveless marriage, and hiding a secret so painful that it’s eating her alive.
The damage began when, as a student, Lily, inhabited a unique and dangerous world: Whitman College. Located in a small city with big murder and crime rates, it is nothing like the suburb she was raised in. But the harsh city is not nearly as dangerous as the predators that roam the Whitman campus, preying on innocence and leaving a trail of ravaged souls in their wake.
The damage culminates ten years later at a dinner party where in the span of an evening Lily destroys her marriage and alienates her friends. She finally realizes that she must tell everyone the truth about what really happened during her years at Whitman. But can her marriage, her friendships, survive the truth?
The Complete Lily Lansing takes you on an emotional and often humorous journey as Lily struggles to make peace with the past and embrace the present. Along for the ride are Erica, Lily’s movie buff best friend, and Petra, the girl in college who was known more for her bad reputation then her grade point average.
The novel touches lightly on contemporary issues like feminism, anorexia, relationships and sex, while conveying the positive message that honesty, laughter, friends, and watching the movie Gone With The Wind can fix anything.
Though a very well written book, The Complete Lily Lansing is not an easy read.
The heroine is difficult to empathize with. I suppose she's a typical young adult... more than a little thoughtless and selfish, but more than once I wanted to smack her upside her head. She keeps returning to a destructive relationship that's only about sex (at least on the boy's end -- and, honestly, I couldn't understand what Lily saw in Seth other than the fact he was cute and, I assume, good in bed), and is frequently blind to the good things right in front of her.
Admittedly, she goes through difficult times, and didn't have the most loving of parents. Bad things happen to her, more than once, and she internalizes most of it, figuring it's all her fault which leads to other problems. Granted, her poor decisions lead to some of those things, but she still doesn't deserve to have them happen.
Before you think she's not a nice person, she really is. She's a good friend, and eventually tries to be a good wife, but she has so much baggage, she's unable to really just let go and love. And ultimately, that's what this book is about: letting go of the past and moving forward. And this is what makes the read worthwhile and the ending of the book a sigh of relief after her exhausting and emotionally draining journey.
I loved her friends, Erica and Petra. They're unique and well drawn. They have their own issues, but loyalty isn't one of them. Her husband and other secondary characters contribute nicely to the book as well. It's interesting to watch them all move past their college selves and into real lives where they're nice, good, responsible people (but not boring in the least!).
The biggest recommendation for this book for me was the artistry of the writing and the top quality editing. The author has a strong voice and her writing is descriptive and clear. It's this talent that will keep people reading this, and other books she write.
If you love a book which puts the leading lady through a pressure cooker, but she comes out a diamond in the end then I can recommend The Complete Lily Lansing.
3.5 Flowers - This was a good book. I liked it.
Enjoy this excerpt:
Lily was so absorbed in her thoughts that she didn’t hear Petra enter her room, even though Petra’s stilettos cracked like hammers on the bare wood floor. A tight black miniskirt stretched to cover Petra’s ample derrière, worn with a shiny pink blouse and enormous gold hoop earrings.
“I can’t believe you’re not ready!” Petra said with a toss of her thick auburn hair.
Lily rose from the bed and went to look at herself in the mirror. “I’m ready. I just need to brush my teeth.”
“Didn’t you wear that outfit to school today?” Petra sized up Lily’s jeans, blouse, and loafers.
“So? It’s still clean.”
“I thought you might want to wear something a little more sexy. We’re going to a frat party, not the library.”
Lily took in Petra’s outfit, which seemed more appropriate for a street corner.
“I’m not trying to impress anyone,” Lily said.
“Not even Seth?”
Lily frowned, drawing her brows together as if she were in sudden pain; she had been hoping to see Seth at the party, but would never admit it to Petra. “I don’t have anything like what you’re wearing,” Lily said, and suddenly wished that she did.
“Well I don’t feel like waiting around for you to fix your face, and there’s not much we can do with your hair. What other shoes do you have?”
“I have black sneakers and tan cowboy boots.”
Petra touched three red-tipped fingers to her forehead as if it were all too much to bear.
“And sandals,” Lily added in an apologetic voice.
“That’ll work. Here, give me your brush.”
Petra wet the brush with hairspray and made a deep side part in Lily’s flaxen hair, coaxing each strand into place. “Keep this side tucked behind your ear, and let the rest fall into your eyes. That’s sexy.”
The Complete Lily Lansing is her first novel.
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