08 August 2017
The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: General fiction, possibly women's fiction
Format: Digital audio book checked out from my local library via Overdrive
Read by: Marguerite Gavin
Publication date: April 2013
Heat level: none
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Isn't the cover of this book lovely? I must admit that I added the book to my library wish list based on the title and the cover alone. Anyway . . .
The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee is the story of a failing library in Cherico, MS. The head librarian is Maura Beth Mayhew. She got the job right after receiving her library science degree and she is determined to make a go of it, despite the City Council's desire to shut the library down and redirect its pitiful budget towards building an industrial park. In an effort to remind the residents of the library's benefits, Maura Beth starts the Cherry Cola Book Club. Will the book club help Maura Beth save the library and her job?
Although the term "cozy" in the book world usually refers to a type of mystery novel, I think it fits this book well. Nothing violent or too shocking happens to anyone and the only sexual content is so far behind closed doors that you could hand this book to your grandmother without blushing. Because of this, some readers may find the story too slow. It took a while to get to the first book club meeting and the author did bang the drum a bit too much about the benefits of the public library. Perhaps there is someone out there who needs to be reminded of the library's importance to the community, but as a reader who gets at least 95% of her reading material from the local library, I felt like Lee's efforts were lost on me.
Perhaps my sexism or limited education is showing, but I was surprised to find that the author, Ashton Lee, is male. I'm not accustomed to reading this style of fiction written by men. This is an accessible comfort-food sort of book. I would call it women's fiction, but it isn't that highbrow or literary and I'm not sure that Maura Beth, our heroine, goes through that much emotional growth. I would be more likely to recommend to a female friend than a male friend, though, and that is the target for women's fiction.
The very traits that may turn some readers away from this book may attract other readers. I didn't realize until I was halfway through the novel that this is the first book in an ongoing series. For that reason, I can excuse all the character bonding that didn't seem to go anywhere; it was all part of getting the reader to care about the characters so they will want to pick up the next book. I did enjoy reading about small-town life and characters of all different ages. Also, the scenes describing the book club meeting towards the end of the novel moved me enough to add another star to my rating of the book.
Since I did experience this in audio form, I would like to add a word about the narrator, Marguerite Gavin. It is difficult for me to listen to actors doing southern accents because a lot of times there are exaggerated. However, Gavin did a very good job with both the male and female characters. She has recorded over 400 books across a variety of genres, so chances are if you listen to audio books you may have already heard her.
I would say that The Cherry Cola Book Club feels like the first episode of a family TV show of yore. There is a little excitement -- not enough to shock you, but just enough to make you want to pick up the next episode (book) and find out how Maura Beth and her friends are getting on.
The Cherry Cola Book Club on Overdrive
The Cherry Cola Book Club on Book Depository