Four well-known LDS authors have joined forces to create a four volume series revolving around a book club. I reviewed Olivia by Julie Wright earlier and recently turned my attention to the second volume, Daisy, by Josi S. Kilpack. The other two books Paige by Annette Lyon and Athena by Heather B. Moore will be released later this year.
Daisy at forty-six hasn't changed much from the rebellious teenager she was at seventeen. She's self-centered, determined to be independent, and has a talent for selecting losers to fall in love with. She gave birth to an illegitimate daughter as a teenager, made the same mistake followed by a hasty marriage a decade or so later. Divorced and remarried, she's now about to become a grandmother, when she discovers another unplanned and unwanted baby is on the way. She's tired of being a Mom and just wants to be done with that part of her life. Unfortunately her teenage daughter overhears her rant and decides to go live with her father.
Daisy has all kinds of issues. She never had a close relationship with her mother who is a gruff, abrupt, no nonsense sort of woman who is deeply committed to her Catholic faith. Daisy isn't interested in religion and feels God has betrayed her. Until she could support herself, she counted on her mother to tend her first daughter while she finished school, but as soon as she could be on her own, she took off for California taking her little girl with her and seldom had any further contact with her family and none with her baby's teenage father. Jared, her second daughter's father, marries her, but after a few years they divorce. Jared stays in his daughter's life and continues to be an irresponsible thorn in Daisy's side. Paul appeared to be the love of her life, but he's as self-centered as she is and only wishes for a playmate wife. Though they marry, they keep their finances and their responsibilities toward their teenage daughters completely separate (he too is divorced with a teenage daughter who lives with her mother.) He is adamantly opposed to staying married once he learns about the baby.
Daisy sort of falls into the book club by chance, but discovers she likes the challenge of reading and discussing the books chosen and she gains some strong insights into her own situation and problems through those discussions. More so than in Olivia, she draws on some of the women in the group for help and support with the problems she faces, especially after she recognizes her own shortcomings as a mother and learns she is pregnant. Daisy is quick tempered, impulsive, and has never had close women friends before. She is deeply hurt by a woman in her office she thought was a friend. This makes her suspicious of some of the overtures by the women in the book group. She has a little too much pride and is more upset that her daughter---who is also a lonely, selfish brat---embarrassed her than that the girl may be cheating in school. She doesn't even attempt to find out whether her daughter really did cheat and she is more upset by what people will think of her than concerned for her daughter's welfare when the girl moves in with her father. She has a difficult time recognizing that everything isn't about her and that she needs friends and family in her life.
Though Daisy learns a great deal about herself and even makes tentative peace with God, she still has some serious growing up to do by the end of the book. The end isn't as satisfactory as it could be and the entire book could be strengthened by fewer problems and more depth given to the remaining ones. Kilpack has a sparkling writing style that brings life to each scene and often shows great insight into human foibles. She maintains snappy, fast paced action throughout the book. I'll admit I didn't enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed her last two culinary mysteries, but she certainly created a character who is a sharp contrast to Olivia in the first book in the series, and favorite or not, Kilpack knows how to maintain a high interest level from start to finish.
Josi Kilpack lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband, four children, and a menagerie of pets. She is the recipient of several awards for her books including the 2007 Mystery/Suspense Whitney award and was a finalist in 2009. For the past two years she has served as Chairman of the Whitney Awards Contest and gala.
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DAISY, THE NEWPORT LADIES BOOK CLUB, VOL. 2 by Josi S. Kilpack, published by Deseret Book, softcover, 269 pages, $17.99, also available for e-readers