Fiction, literary fiction, romance, women's fiction

Book Review: Flying Solo by Linda Holmes

“I find the way you approach this exhausting.”

Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot who lived till she was in her nineties. Aunty Dot was a great adventurer who never married and whose life Laurie greatly admired. Still flustered by her canceled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie dives into cleaning out her aunty’s house and settling her estate. When she finds a mysterious wooden duck at the bottom of a cedar chest, her curiosity is piqued because Dot isn’t a woman who hid beautiful things away. She’s even more intrigued when she comes across a love letter from one of Dot’s ex-boyfriends that ends with the line – “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.”

Laurie is told that the duck is worthless so when it’s taken from her in a very unethical way, she wonders why anyone would want a worthless duck. Desperate to uncover the real reason Dot hid away the duck and its origins, Laurie embarks on an adventure that leads her to discover so much about her aunty, her family, her friends and challenges the rules she’s set for her life.

If Holmes’ name sounds familiar to you, it’s because she wrote Evvie Drake Starts Over but this book is nothing like that. Her first book was a purely romance novel but Flying Solo is more women’s fiction. If you ever wonder what the general consensus of what publishers consider women’s fiction, just read this book, it ticks every box.

Laurie has decided that she does not want to get married and she does not want kids. She likes living alone and coming back to her hometown in Maine gives her a chance to confront the choices she has made for herself. Cleaning out her aunt’s house gives her a chance to see her future clearly and helps her wonder who will be doing the clean out of her house when she dies childless. Also complicating her future is her ex boyfriend who is now twice as hot and is the librarian in their small town. He wants all the things Laurie doesn’t want – for her to move back to Maine and marry him.

This book was an easy read but the quote at the top of this post is how I felt about Laurie. She never got off her soap box. I found her exhausting, she reminded us every 3 minutes that she wants to live alone and never have kids. I really enjoyed how her best friend called her out on how judgmental she came off to people like her who had chosen the traditional path of getting married and having kids.

I liked the overall message that romance does not need to fit into any box to be legitimate and good but I still felt that the romance in this book felt very one sided with Laurie holding all the cards. But who knows? Maybe I’m so used to seeing women compromise for men that it just felt off to me to see a woman get everything she wanted without having to ever bend? This is one of those books you pick up if it’s available in your library or the paperback goes on sale. It’s an easy read that I doubt I’d remember by the end of the year.

Leggy