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Stones Paperback – July 16, 2014
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Reviewed by Susan Coryell
Julie Goldsmith is fifty and she wants closure with Manny Geller, her first and most intense love. Julie looks on her own situation with humor: “Now that half my life is over, I’ve somehow become disconnected, and I’m breaking apart at the seams. It’s as if some giant Hoover is hovering over me like a rain cloud or an alien spaceship, sucking all the happiness and energy out in steady, soul-severing whooshes, leaving me stuck on the spin cycle, permanently pressed.” Having worked in the family jewelry business most of her life, Julie compares her fiftieth birthday to a precious stone that appears perfect on the outside, when it is actually full of flaws beneath the surface. Feeling estranged from her husband, Matt, in part, because of his international work schedule, Julie agrees to meet Manny in Florida, knowing he has an ulterior motive for the meeting himself: sex.
Though Matt’s job has moved the family from Julie’s beloved Miami to Atlanta, she and her best friend in Florida, Mackie Shack, continue to email each other, discussing their problems. Julie compares Mackie to toilet paper, “...the kind of friend who sticks to the bitter end.” Both women know full well that Julie’s planned rendezvous with Manny could be a huge mistake.
As author Marilyn Baron leads up to the literal hurricane awaiting Julie’s link-up with Manny, she back-flashes to college days and the unintended pregnancy that results from a fraternity weekend where both Manny and Matt are present. As both men face Julie’s father late in the pregnancy, Sid Goldsmith tells Julie: “Life is more than a pleasure trip. You are going to marry one of these boys if I have to shoot them both.”
Within an upper-class contemporary setting, Stones reflects humorously and poignantly on the flow and flux of life, romance, marriage and commitment to family and friends that is bound to resonate with adult readers everywhere. Baron’s light touch, with serious undertones makes for a compelling read: a sparkling gem with deep facets, for sure.
But to say that the book is just about revisiting a first love is to leave out another important facet of the story--the power of friendship and how not trusting in its strength can lead to pain.
Overall, this was a compelling, masterfully written book. The heroine's nickname, Jewels, takes on special significance. A close read is much rewarded!
Will she or won’t she betray her husband is the question. Ms. Baron drops clues like breadcrumbs about how Julie got to this point. With each new chapter, the reader is hit with surprises. Sometimes the hits are gentle, like with a nerf ball; a few feel like being hit with a baseball.
Full disclosure here. I’m a fan of Marilyn Baron’s books. I’ve laughed out loud (Murder at the Outlet Mall & Significant Others) and was creeped out (in a good way) by her Psychic Crystal mysteries. Stones is now my favorite.
I was given a copy of Stones in exchange for a fair and honest review.