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Good Grief Hardcover – April 13, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (April 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446533041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446533041
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (235 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,863,811 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Some widows face their loss with denial. Sophie Stanton's reaction is one of pure bafflement. "How can I be a widow?" Sophie asks at the opening of Lolly Winston's sweet debut novel, Good Grief. "I'm only thirty-six. I just got used to the idea of being married." Sophie's young widowhood forces her to do all kinds of crazy things--drive her car through her garage door, for instance. That's on one of the rare occasions when she bothers to get out of bed. The Christmas season especially terrifies her: "I must write a memo to the Minister of Happier Days requesting that the holidays be cancelled this year." But widowhood also forces her to do something very sane. After the death of her computer programmer husband, she reexamines her life as a public relations agent in money-obsessed Silicon Valley. Sophie decides to ease her grief, or at least her loneliness, by moving in with her best friend Ruth in Ashland, Oregon. But it's her difficult relationship with psycho teen punker Crystal, to whom she becomes a Big Sister, that mysteriously brings her at least a few steps out of her grief. Winston allows Sophie life after widowhood: The novel almost indiscernibly turns into a gentle romantic comedy and a quirky portrait of life in an artsy small town. At all stops on her journey from widow to survivor, Sophie is a lively, crabby, delightfully imperfect character. --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly

"The grief is up already. It is an early riser, waiting with its gummy arms wrapped around my neck, its hot, sour breath in my ear." Sophie Stanton feels far too young to be a widow, but after just three years of marriage, her wonderful husband, Ethan, succumbs to cancer. With the world rolling on, unaware of her pain, Sophie does the only sensible thing: she locks herself in her house and lives on what she can buy at the convenience store in furtive midnight shopping sprees. Everything hurts—the telemarketers asking to speak to Ethan, mail with his name on it, his shirts, which still smell like him. At first Sophie is a "good" widow, gracious and melancholy, but after she drives her car through the garage door, something snaps; she starts showing up at work in her bathrobe and hiding under displays in stores. Her boss suggests she take a break, so she sells her house and moves to Ashland, Ore., to live with her best friend, Ruth, and start over. Grief comes along, too—but with a troubled, pyromaniac teen assigned to her by a volunteer agency, a charming actor dogging her and a new job prepping desserts at a local restaurant, Sophie is forced to explore the misery that has consumed her. Throughout this heartbreaking, gorgeous look at loss, Winston imbues her heroine and her narrative with the kind of grace, bitter humor and rapier-sharp realness that will dig deep into a reader's heart and refuse to let go. Sophie is wounded terribly, but she's also funny, fresh and utterly believable. There's nary a moment of triteness in this outstanding debut.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

I laughed, cried and felt hope as I was reading this book.
valerie oviatt
Each is developed well and adds so much to the main character as well as the evolution of the story to its end.
Diane L. Mechlinski
GOOD GRIEF is a story about love, loss, friendship, courage, and most of all, renewal.
Bookreporter

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Cathy Goodwin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Good Grief belongs to a sub-sub-genre of women's fiction. Likeable woman faces crisis. Discovers herself through transforming domestic, warm-and-fuzzy talents into a commercial enterprise. And, if single, she gets a romantic interest as a bonus.
As it happens, I rather like this sub-sub genre. And Lolly Winston gives us a heroine who's likeable and intelligent. She adds an edge by giving us a blow-by-blow account of a year in the life of a grieving widow. In this case, the grief seems especially painful because Sophie, the heroine, is young, and because she lost her own mother at a very young age.
Sophie's grief seems like a blanket someone has thrown over her life, stifling her energy. Like most employers, Sophie's company allots a limited time for grieving. After that, Sophie is supposed to be a cheerful PR person, extolling the virtues of some deeply flawed medical product.
Just as she hits bottom in her career, an old friend invites Sophie to move from California's Silicon Valley to Ashland, Oregon. And Sophie's new life begins.
Sophie finds a charming rental cottage and a job in a restaurant, where she gets downgraded from waitress to salad prep and then to pastry, where she finds her true niche. She begins to study baking in earnest and, along the way, finds a new love and a new career.
Of course, it's not quite that easy. Sophie becomes a Big Sister (the reasons are a little value and I'm surprised she was accepted, given her grief-stricken state). Her Little Sister, Crystal, isn't the cuddly eight-year-old she expected, but a tough-talking teen with a ditzy mom and potentially serious problems. Some of Sophie's descents into grief can be hard to read, despite a comedic element.
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41 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What an unusual premise for a sweet little romance to take off from: our heroine is in her thirties, recently widowed after only a few years of marriage. It's difficult to make profound grief funny, but Lolly Winston manages it in spades. There's an especially funny scene in which Winston keeps the point of view and voice and tone that of Sophie, her grieving narrator, while she's coming completely unglued (showing up for work in her bathrobe and slippers, scarfing down carbs and sweets - hot dog buns with honey! - and talking in gibberish). In writerly terms, this is called Your Basic Crazy Unreliable Narrator, but Winston holds it together just long enough for the poor woman to be packed off to a shrink.
Somewhere between quitting her job and being fired, she takes a leave of absence in the interest of mental health, treks off to pretty Ashland, Oregon, and begins, improbably, to try patching herself together by becoming a volunteer Big Sister to a very angry pyromaniac teenage girl - not the most sensible choice, but what the hay: it's a romance novel, after all.
And, right on cue, in comes Mr. Wonderful.
Happy ending, eventually, of course. Lots of improbable stuff along the way, but this book is so well written and handles the vagaries of grief so well that you've gotta love it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Douglass on May 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
Well, you know the phrase, "leave them wanting more". Lolly Winston did. (WHEN is that next book available?) I wanted to know how the rest of the character's lives panned out, and wanted another book by the same author the minute I was done with the first. Lolly took a subject that our culture finds difficult to discuss, talks about it openly and honestly, and pokes some fun at it along the way. Her characters are flawed and complex, as is her portrayal of grief. My favorite character was Crystal. As a mom of two teenage girls, I wonder if Lolly has spent the last year doing research in a high school - even the teenage vernacular is right on the money! Couldn't put it down, and I can't wait for the next book. Keep 'em coming!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Benes on September 23, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I get so excited when I see a book where the main character has the flaws we can all relate to. She's an emotional wreck, struggles with her weight, her frizzy hair, her overwhelming thankless job. But - and here be the spoilers!! - I get so disgusted when, time and time again, these characters make an impossible transition, discovering some amazing talent they never knew they had. From being an incompetent waitress to a fabulous pastry chef, from the frizzy hair to the silky ringlets, finding the perfect man who's hopelessly in love with her, and transforming a cutting arsonist into a well-rounded teenager. All this and so much more - within a year. It's not even believable.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By nodice on November 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I struggled to figure out the appropriate star for this book. I, like a few other reviewers, feel that the book is unbalanced. The begining starts off intriguing and is laced with black comedic moments. Then Sophie Stanton moves to Ashland and it becomes a different book entirely--yet it's still entertaining.

There are actual scenes in this book that I read in two other chick-lit novels. I probably should research to see if these writers enrolled in the same creative writing class. Despite that flaw-the book was entertaining.

I had problems with how some issues were dealt with- Crystal for one thing. It's as if Sophie took the stance of 'if she wants to cut herself-fine. If she wants to sit a hot kettle on her leg-fine.'

What help did she get this little girl? Heck, she didn't even discourage the girl from smoking. 'just don't do it the house'??? The girl was thirteen!! Surely a widow of cancer-would take a firmer stance on an underage girl puffing on cancer sticks.

I agree the time line of Sophie launching into a new business-is laughable. That must have been one hell of a bakery class she took. And how did she get the mayor to attend an opening again? From what was written--she didn't know that many people--but hundreds of people showed up at the opening???

Drew--how much money does an actor at a festival makes anyway??? And he's forty-? He didn't act forty--he seemed like he should be dating Crystal.

I kept forgetting who Gloria was.

By the end of the book, did she stop attending the grief group?

When Marion developed Alzheimer's--I had to duck from the author throwing the kitchen sink at me. This serious disease was reduced to a laugh track. Alzheimer's consumes families.
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