THE CYPRESS CLUB
By Jeff Wiemiller
Jeff Wiemiller’s novel THE CYPRESS CLUB depicts a man’s confrontation with his tense relationship with his mother. Ben is a physician’s assistant who lives in Minnesota with his long-term boyfriend, Jake. His wealthy parents—his father, Jim, was a doctor before retirement—live in a classy seniors-only complex in Florida, where Ben visits for his parents’ extravagant fortieth anniversary party. Even before coming out as gay, Ben had a difficult relationship with his mother, Betsy, whose selfish, narcissistic mindset devolves into gaslighting and judgmental behavior. In Florida, without Jake, who as an accountant is buried by tax season, Ben attempts to improve his relationship with Betsy while her pretentious, presumptuous behavior continues to wear away at Ben’s patience and self-worth. When the anniversary party ends in tragedy, Ben has a new, compounding obstacle to deciding whether to reconcile with his mother or to break ties with her altogether.
While the writing style of the book is lighthearted and fast-paced, the book’s content is serious and does not shy away from sensitive topics like cheating. The straightforward, accessible use of language and the friendly tone help temper the emotional whiplash Ben experiences, to avoid feeling melodramatic, especially in scenes where Betsy overreacts to missteps in party planning or when Ben’s short temper gets the better of him. These expressions of character are consistent and precise, both when they are overt and when they are subtle, such as when Betsy pretends she doesn’t know what Ben means when he throws words she said to him back in her face. Behavior and dialogue work in tandem to reveal the most significant aspects of Ben and Betsy’s psyches, making their characters feel well-rounded and real. The book shines in the unique way that though the reader may disagree with a character’s decisions, the book offers all the tools necessary to have a complete understanding as to why the character did what they did. Peripheral characters, including Jake, Jim, and Ben’s emotionally balanced sister, Abby, have just enough backstory and quirks to feel realistic without overtaking the main characters’ story.
The book’s ending is unexpected yet makes perfect sense for the characters’ personalities and internal struggles. While it is not a particularly happy ending, to see a main character do what is best for themselves rather than what they believe is right is refreshing. THE CYPRESS CLUB is a novel that is both engaging and entertaining and also offers a heartrending message about acknowledging your and others’ shortcomings and being kind to others and to yourself.
Expressions of character through dialogue and behavior, both subtle and overt, work to build a well-rounded, realistic cast in Jeff Wiemiller’s heartrending novel THE CYPRESS CLUB.
~Aimee Jodoin for IndieReader
THE CYPRESS CLUB
By Jeff Wiemiller
A weekend-long celebration slowly unravels in this nuanced, expertly paced family drama. THE CYPRESS CLUB balances complicated emotions and toxic family dynamics with witty observational comedy in a page-turning narrative style. Big personalities, a seemingly idyllic retirement community rife with gossip, and heart-wrenching third act twists make it an unputdownable read.