Desert Isle Keeper
Ladies with Options
If you’re in the mood for something that’s not a romance but will still make you feel good, have I got the book for you! Ladies with Options is a delightful story about a group of women who make successes of themselves. The Mostly Methodist Club is a “mostly married, mostly middle-aged” group of ladies who start off as a church/social group. After reading an article discussing how you can’t depend on your retirement savings to support yourself, the ladies decide to become an investment club. Through the eyes of Sophia, one of the ladies’ daughters, we see how their lives change over the course of about 15 years.
There are too many members of the club to describe each of them. The main leaders are Sophia’s mother (I’m not sure what her name actually is!), Martha, Agnes, Skye, Dolly, Deborah, and Gladys. Hartwick relates episodes in each of their lives that bring you closer to each one of them. For example, Deborah’s foray into hair salons, Gladys’s relationships with her family, Agnes’s relationship with her boss, and Sophia’s relationship with all of them. Each has a distinctive personality that complements the rest of the members of the group – Deborah is an ex-marine, Agnes is a shy librarian, and Skye is a rebellious teen with pink hair and a genius for computers.
This novel sparkles because of Hartwick’s writing style . The characters truly come alive and the reader will come to care for them. Hartwick has a way with a metaphor and delivers humor that can be laugh-out-loud funny (just ask my husband). Take this passage between Sophia and Milt, her best friend from college turned suitor:
After that we just sat cozily on the carpet in front of the couch and, with our arms around each other, stared into the cheery fire.
“Boy, this is the life.”
“You said it.”
About five minutes passed in comfortable silence. Then I asked, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”
He turned, studied me for a long minute, and then, jumping up, cried joyfully, “I’ll get some notepads.”
I reached under the couch. “Right here.” I handed him one and kept the other. They had pens attached. Milt pulled the cap off his pen with his teeth, then blew it somewhere we’d never find it again.
“So,” he asked, “how do you see us restructuring the software division?”
It was a match made in heaven.
Exchanges like this are sprinkled throughout the book in just the right spots. While in another book such passages may seem like parody, here it strikes exactly the right tone and dovetails perfectly into the story.
Hartwick deals with serious issues like the women growing and learning to depend on themselves, but it’s done with a light touch. When I finished this book, I could hear the Annie Lennox song Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves playing in my head.
I can’t recommend Ladies with Options highly enough. It’s a slice-of-life story that will make you feel like cheering for these women, and maybe even running out and doing a little investing. Trust me: if you’re in the mood for something a little bit different than your typical romance, this is it. It’s like Jan Karon’s Mitford series – but better. Cynthia Hartwick is an author to watch, and I will be grabbing her next book off the shelf.