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Helen of Pasadena Paperback – October 15, 2010
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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From Publishers Weekly
In Dolan's debut novel, Helen Fairchild finds her life turned upside-down after her husband leaves her for another woman and promptly dies in a freak accident during Pasadena's famed Rose Parade. To make matters worse, Helen discovers that they were on the verge of bankruptcy and she's forced to sell their beautiful home and find a job in order to pay her son Aiden's private school tuition. This makes Helen re-examine the choices she's made, noting "I happily traded in my grad-student status for membership in the young mothers' club of Pasadena." Helen finds employment with Dr. Patrick O'Neill, a Pasadena archeologist studying the journals of an excavator of Troy. He also happens to be handsome, charming, and unattached. In addition to her role as research assistant, Helen must help Patrick navigate the Pasadena social scene, which includes a bevy of beauties all trying to get their hands on him. Dolan (of Public Radio's popular Satellite Sisters) has created a compelling narrative and a memorable cast ideal for the woman who enjoys a quick read, likeable characters, and frequent descriptions of what everyone is wearing.
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― Publishers Weekly
"Lian is known for her humorous take on day-to-day issues facing women everywhere."
"A send-up of a 40something mom who finds herself suddenly widowed, broke, and forced to reinvent herself...opinionated, energetic, and sassy."
― Mandalit del Barco, NPR
"A knockout debut...it mixes up the classics and class structure in a deliciously witty romp."
― Caroline Leavitt, New York Times–bestselling author of Cruel Beautiful World and Pictures of You
"Every reader will see something of herself in Dolan's likable heroine, Helen of Pasadena. Offering up every woman's worst fear, Dolan pulls the rug out from under Helen, and we get to watch as she recovers and reinvents herself with wit, charm, and smarts."
― Sally Bjornsen, author of A Single Girl's Guide to Marrying a Man, His Kids, and His Ex-Wife
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She had volunteered at the Huntington and decided to start her job search there where she lucks into a job helping a visiting professor with research. Patrick has gotten this grant from the Huntington to study the notebooks Rudy Schliemann left of his time helping his uncle uncover Troy. Patrick does not expect much from the journals and grows to appreciate the way Helen smoothes out his life and work. He is booked for the Dirty Archaeologist when Helen discovers Rudy was having a read hot affair with his uncle's young wife Sophie. Helen is slowly working her way out of the chaos her husband left her in and trying to downsize and get their lives back on track. The characters are funny and the humor is full of pathos. Helen starts to feel more for Patrick, but does not see how it would work if he returned her feelings. Watching Helen use her volunteer training to take on the world reminds me of how much that training brings to the table. I would rather sit through a board meeting than to deal with the volunteer politics of some areas. Helen of Pasadena is a winner.
If you like chick lit, this should be a no-brainer purchase for you. If you don't like chick lit, try the sample and see if Ms. Dolan's writing skill can win you over.
The book starts with Helen at her husband's funeral. He had wanted a divorce, had been having an affair and had been texting the Other Woman when he died in an accident. Helen is left with a big house, no money, and no job. But she has girlfriends, skills, and she is smart. This is the next year of her life.
I couldn't put it down.
it doesn't feel like something special for people who don't live and identify with the places and culture.