Missouri Rothman’s 50th birthday was nothing to celebrate. All on that fateful day, her car was totaled, she lost her job, and her husband announced he was leaving her for a younger woman. Her self-worth in tatters, Missouri is at a loss as to how to put her life back together. Having been a talented artist in her youth, she contacts a former high school teacher who encourages her to resurrect her long-deferred dream. Reluctantly at first, Missouri enrolls in college and begins the slow journey towards a new life, a path that leads her all the way to the magnificent sights, sounds and tastes of Florence, Italy—and an unexpected romance.
Novels about divorced women picking up the pieces usually tend towards the formulaic, and MAKING LEMONADE is no exception to that rule. The hackneyed plotline is yet another example of a literary subgenre so overdone that it’s become as humdrum as a long line at the post office. Yet as stale as some of them are, they bring hope to the brokenhearted. Countless readers turn to such books time and again for the reassurance that somehow, everything will be all right.
That’s what makes MAKING LEMONADE a worthwhile read in spite of its familiarity. Author Muriel Pritchett communicates her tale with a straightforward sincerity. It’s a novel that fully believes in the value of its message, and that comes across in its writing style. Another standout is Pritchett’s fluid description of Italian cities such as Florence and Venice, which evokes a real sense of being present among centuries of history, culture, and great art.
Protagonist Missouri is a relatable and admirable heroine; although her constant dismissal of herself as “old, fat, and stupid” is wearisome, her path toward confidence is emotionally rewarding. Among the supporting cast, ex-husband Doyle is an over-the-top caricature of the philandering spouse, while new love interest David is a sympathetic figure, though deeply flawed, whose encouragement and passion go a long way towards helping Missouri find the purpose and renewal she seeks.
MAKING LEMONADE treads familiar waters, but its resonant theme makes it an inspiring read. An earnest and honest portrayal of heartbreak and the journey towards wholeness.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader