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Monday, February 27, 2012

Walter's Muse by Jean Davies Okimoto (TLC Book Tour)

Walter's Muse by Jean Davies Okimoto
Endicott Hugh Books
ISBN: 978-0983711513
Published Feb 1, 2012
Trade paperback, 285 pages

Maggie Lewis is a retired librarian who's looking forward to spending a quiet summer on Vashon Island where she lives. But a wind storm hits the island, and her new neighbour, Walter Hathaway, an award-winning children's author, gets injured. Suddenly, Maggie is involved in Walter's life and we learn they had a history together twenty years ago. But Walter is a different man than when she first met him. He is now a grumpy, recovering alcoholic, a loner, and struggling to get published  again. What's more, Maggie also has to deal with her younger needy sister with whom she shares a sad childhood.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked Walter's Muse. It includes a cast of quirky, flawed characters, most of whom are all retirees, and it deals with accepting that although one grows older, life is still full of surprises and worthy endeavours. It's written with humour and nuggets of wisdom on the gift of friendship. I especially liked the character of Martha Jane, the ninety-year-old who still has a zest for life despite her dementia and slow pace.

I work with seniors so reading this story about second chances at love and one's passion in life had me smiling. Sixty-five is not old to me. That's not to say it didn't stand out in the story. It did. The author didn't squirm away from addressing issues of growing old, and I liked that. It was very much about what does one do after one stops working and raising his/her family? I found it insightful.

The setting of Vashon Island is metaphorical. The pace of life there is slower, unlike the city, and it is isolated from the mainland, allowing for a life that encourages reflection and tranquillity. The author brings Vashon Island to life with Maggie's love of kayaking, walks on the beach, and description of the flora and fauna. The Island is also much like the characters, beautiful without fanfare. Maggie, unlike her sister who had plastic surgery and always looked like a doll, was very simple and didn't bother with make-up or fancy clothes. She was comfortable in her skin, even when her tone was self-deprecating at times. She was also a good person,  generous with her time, making her a likable person I could relate to, no matter her age or situation.

Walter is a wonderful character because he is genuine, larger than life, and an author. I really could relate to his insecurities about his writing. He could be cantankerous, funny and tender. Romance flares up between him and Maggie, and some of the issues in finding love at a later stage in life are also addressed. Things I would never have thought of!

If you like reading contemporary stories about life changes, finding love later in life, and the setting of small town life, then you will certainly enjoy Walter's Muse.

Note: This book is rated P = profanity for religious expletives, one f-words and some crude language. 
For more reviews of this book, visit the TLC Book Tour page.

We will be giving away a copy of this book on Feb 29 for the Leap Into Books Giveaway Hop! Don't miss it!

About the author:
Jean Davies Okimoto is an author and playwright whose books and short stories have been translated into Japanese, Italian, Chinese, German and Hebrew. She is the recipient of numerous awards including Smithsonian Notable Book, the American LibraryAssociation Best Book for Young Adults, the Washington Governor’s Award and the International Reading Association Readers Choice Award. Her picture book, Blumpoe the Grumpoe Meets Arnold the Cat was adapted by Shelly Duvall for the HBO and Showtime television series “Bedtime Stories.” Her debut novel for adults The Love Ceiling was a season’s pick by the King County Library System, named to the ABA Indie Next Reading Group List and ebook Fiction Winner in the 2009 Indie Next Generation Awards. She has appeared on CNN, Oprah, and The Today Show. Jeanie began writing for adults when she and her husband Joe retired to Vashon Island in 2004 where they are visited by deer, a raccoon named George who is missing a tail and their six grandchildren.

For more information on Ms. Okimoto, please visit her website at www.jeandaviesokimoto.com.

Reviewed by Laura

Disclosure: Thanks to Endicott Hugh Books and TLC Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.

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