Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: While We Were Watching Downton Abbey - Wendy Wax

While We Were Watching Downton Abbey by Wendy Wax
Genre: Adult, contemporary
Published on April 3, 2013
Published by Berkley
Pages: 384
Read From: 2.15.15 - 2.24.15

When the concierge of the Alexander, a historic Atlanta apartment building, invites his fellow residents to join him for weekly screenings of Downton Abbey, four very different people find themselves connecting with the addictive drama, and - even more unexpectedly - with each other. . . .
Samantha Davis married young and for the wrong reason: the security of old Atlanta money for herself and her orphaned brother and sister. She never expected her marriage to be complicated by love and compromised by a shattering family betrayal.
Claire Walker is now an empty nester and struggling author who left her home in the suburbs for the old-world charm of the Alexander, and for a new and productive life. But she soon wonders if clinging to old dreams can be more destructive than having no dreams at all. 
And then there's Brooke MacKenzie, a woman in constant battle with her faithless ex-husband. She's just starting to realize that it's time to take a deep breath and come to terms with the fact that her life is not the fairy tale she thought it would be. 
For Samantha, Claire, Brooke, and Edward, who arranges the weekly gatherings, it will be a season of surprises as they forge a bond that will sustain them through some of life's hardest moments - all of it reflected in the unfolding drama, comedy, and convergent lives of Downton Abbey.


Initial Thoughts: I went into this book with no preconceived notions or expectations. I was looking for something quick, fluffy, and different from what I usually read. While We Were Watching Downton Abbey didn't disappoint. It's pure fluff, it's fun and encouraging, and exactly what I needed. An indulgent read.

Characters: It's easy to feel for the three main characters: Samantha, Claire, and Brooke. Samantha, while seemingly has everything, lives a life where she has to strive for perfection and can never let her guard down. She's terrified that if she ever shows her imperfections, her fairy tale prince husband and his rich family won't want her anymore. Lot a pressure for one person to bear. Claire is starting a new life after having a rather disappointing one. There was no affection in her marriage, she's put all of her dreams on hold to raise her daughter Hailey, and finally she's starting new. Pursuing her dream to be a full-time writer. But she isn't used to being alone and being a full-time writer isn't as easy as everyone makes it out to be. Meanwhile, Brooke is just lost. Her rich husband has divorced her because she isn't perfect enough, she's raising two kids, has no job, and totally insecure about herself. I sympathize for Samantha, root for Claire, and feel sorry for Brooke. I adored Samantha's husband Jonathan - he was golden - and absolutely detested Brooke's ex and Samantha's leech-of-a-brother Hunter. I was so-so about everyone else. Didn't dislike them, didn't love them.

The Romance: Samantha loves her husband, but is convinced he only sees her as a charity case. Brooke still desperately wishes her ex was the knight in shining armor she thought she'd married, but she slowly starts to look beyond him and maybe can find happiness with someone else? Claire just watches it all. The romance isn't a big part of the book, but what there is of it I actually really liked.

Plot: Samantha was destitute until she married her fairy tale prince Jonathan Davis. Now she strives to be the perfect wife so he never feels like he made a mistake. Claire is getting used to life without her daughter, who's off in college now, and trying to pursue a career as a full-time writer. Brooke is just trying to sort out of her mess of a life after a a messy divorce from a man she is still in love with. The three women are from very different social backgrounds. But they bond over weekly airings of Downton Abbey, find new meaning in life, and new strength to pursue their dreams. This is a fluffy, happy, delightful book that doesn't require any thinking or effort. Just dive in. It was fun to follow along with these three women as they tried to figure out their new lives - and how they fit into them. Even more fun was to see how the story, in some ways, paralleled Downton Abbey.

Believability: Not applicable.

Writing Style: Third person, past tense. Perhaps what made the book so enjoyable. It was delectable, fluffy, enjoyable writing. At times the dialogue didn't shine and a few scenes felt forced - especially when the characters discussed Downton Abbey. I can't quite put my finger on it, but those scenes fell a little flat. But overall, it was very pleasant.

Other Nigglies: None, really.

Conclusion: The ending is as fluffy as the rest of the book. I enjoyed Downton Abbey. If this is what a "beach read" is, I want more of them! It was perfect for the mood I was in, appealed to my girly and Downton Abbey side, and it was just a lot of fun.

Recommended Audience: Lady-read, twenties-and-up, fans of fluff reads.

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