Silver Lining isn’t bad, but it isn’t good either. Let’s start with what’s good: the hero is a farmer, not a rancher, spy, SEAL, cop, or corporate honcho. Then there are the clever Wizard of Oz references. And the hero’s 5-year-old son Jamey is sweet and realistic. Unfortunately, he’s the best-written character in the book. Overall, Silver Lining suffers from wooden characters and a storyline that drags and wanders.
Katherine Spencer is a wealthy heiress who, rather than spending her time and money in aimless fun, has become a respected child psychologist. When the book opens, a couple of goons have kidnapped her and plan to hold her for ransom. The two thugs are of the Keystone Kops variety and Katherine easily slips her bonds, steals their old Cadillac and takes off across the Kansas landscape. A tornado comes out of the sky and rolls the Caddie with Katherine in it. She is observed and rescued by Tom Weaver and his son Jamey. They take her to the hospital. Katherine is fine except for a bump on the head which results in (you guessed it) amnesia. Jamey is a big fan of The Wizard of Oz, and because she’s wearing red shoes, he names her Dorothy. Since she has no place to go, Tom offers to give her room and board if she will baby-sit Jamey.
Katherine is an exasperating character. Her amnesia only affects her memory, not her ability, but she is is almost laughably ineffectual at times. She can’t seem to work a lot of household appliances, and whether the author is showing her as incapable due to her wealth or the amnesia is unclear. Either way, the device falls flat, particularly since her problems seem sporadic. She can’t seem to work a vacuum cleaner but is able to make costumes on a sewing machine, even though she later gets burned when trying to iron them. We won’t even get into her ability to midwife a litter of pigs. Katherine also suffers from sporadic characterization in another way too – she goes from lust to hate in the span of a single sentence upon occasion, for no good reason. And since her amnesia has only affected her memory – I’m not cutting her any slack on this.
Tom was a tall, dark and handsome cipher. He’s a farmer, he’s divorced, but he’s mostly tall, dark and handsome. I can’t say much more about him. If only he had as much charm as his cute little son Jamey, but for me he was entirely forgettable.
Most of the Wizard of Oz references come about through Jamey. Some are quite clever, and even the names of some of the minor characters have Oz refencences – especially the silly Sheriff Gulch. These are clever and charming, but they only serve to point out how ordinary the rest of the book is in comparison.
Most of The Wizard of Oz took place in that marvelous, magical land – too bad most of Silver Lining takes place in Kansas.