Desert Isle Keeper
Barefoot in the Grass
Some time ago, I read a review of Barefoot in the Grass by Judith Arnold. The story line intrigued me enough that I went out of my way to find it through an internet used book site After I received the book, I put it in my library for later. A year later, looking for something a little bit different, I remembered Barefoot In the Grass and grabbed it off the shelf. I sat down one rainy evening, and began the book and I was captured – not only by the characters but by the issue behind the story which at first glance is very depressing.
Barefoot In the Grass deals with breast cancer. Let’s get that out of the way right now. I know you’re saying to yourself, “Why would I want to read a book on such a depressing topic?” That’s what I thought too, so let me tell you why. Judith Arnold has written such a tender, well constructed book that I couldn’t find any reason to be depressed. This book deals sensitively with a woman who has had cancer and had to have a mastectomy and how this woman has to deal with her life now that she’s less than perfect in her own eyes and in society’s as well.
Beth Pendleton has been in cancer remission for two years. She was a top-notch real estate attorney in Manhattan but the toll of chemotherapy and the loss of a breast have made her see life from a new perspective. Her best friends offer her a partnership in their law firm in a small town, a chance to live life in the not-quite-so-fast lane. Beth is tired and she’s fragile; the thought of living out of the city intrigues her enough to motivate her to change her way of life, move to the country and begin again.
So Beth starts over. She sells her Manhattan condo, buys an old Victorian house, gets a puppy from the local animal shelter and prepares for a new and, she hopes, good life. However, on the day that she gets “Chuck,” the puppy, he promptly escapes from his new mistress’s clutches and makes a break for it down the street. Then, his short lived escape ceases when Ryan Walker steps on his trailing leash.
From the very first moment, Ryan meets Beth, he’s taken with her. Beth’s feisty, she’s funny and since Ryan’s no slouch in the woman charming department, he figures it won’t be long until he has Beth eating out of his hand. When Beth’s business partner, Jeff, gives Ryan’s business law work to Beth to handle, Ryan figures he’s got an in to Beth’s life. Beth doesn’t quite see it that way and she’d much rather keep Ryan on a friendship basis. After all, he would be better off to find a woman who’s perfect. Beth’s not about to fall into the trap of falling for Ryan only to have him walk away when he finds out that she’s not as perfect as she used to be.
This is a story about real life. Judith Arnold has handled an issue that many women face everyday – life after breast cancer. She’s made this scary subject not quite so scary for those of us who have never had to face the issue. For those who have, they will find that she has handled the situation with sensitivity and caring.
Arnold has neither sugar-coated the issue nor had the characters wallow in angst. Beth is a real woman who has handled a tough situation, survived and is moving on with her life. Ryan is the caring and understanding man every woman wants. Arnold shows us the mixture of awkwardness, caring, and fear in Ryan when Beth finally tells him of her medical history.
Barefoot in the Grass does have a happy ending, and one that is full of hope. I truly enjoyed it and wish we could have more stories where these kind of issues are handled so sensitively. Judith Arnold gets an A+ for creating a warm and happy story about a potentially terrifying topic. My hat’s off to you, Judith.