Monday, March 9, 2015

Review: The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery

In this day and age, it's easy to say you have a million friends. Just look at your Facebook account and the number of people who ostensibly want to follow along in your life. But most of these people are more properly acquaintances or just casual friends. And that's okay. But deep down, true friends are gold. And they are much rarer. They don't need Facebook to know what is going on in your life because they are already there for you for all of the good and the bad. The three women in Susan Mallery's newest novel, The Girls of Mischief Bay, have this kind of friendship.

Nicole, Shannon, and Pam are very different women. They met when the latter two started taking classes at Nicole's Pilates studio and as the most dedicated and regular of all Nicole's clients, they've forged a friendship that goes well beyond their fitness class. Shannon and Pam are trying their hardest to support Nicole through a difficult time in her marriage. Her husband Eric decided to quit his job and follow his dream to write a screenplay, leaving Nicole not only the sole breadwinner for the family but still the one in charge of all the housework and childcare for their young son. Nicole is doing her best to support him but the increasing emotional distance between them, the lack of communication or sharing, and her flat out exhaustion are taking their toll. Shannon is approaching 40 and she looks at Nicole, even in the midst of an imperfect marriage, and at Pam, who is married to John, the love of her life and has raised a family with him, and she wonders if she was right in sacrificing a personal life for her very successful career. When she meets Adam, the perfect guy, thoughtful and not intimidated by her intelligence and success, she starts to think that maybe she can have it all. Pam, the oldest of the trio, has a good life but her marriage has become routine and she decides to find a way to jazz it back up, especially now that her daughter is expecting a baby and Pam is struggling a bit with the idea of becoming a grandmother and with aging. From these apparent minor issues, each of the women will have a major bombshell explode in her life, causing them to turn to each other and the genuine, caring friendship that they have created together, as they face the new directions their lives must now go.

This is the first in a new series of women's fiction, set in an imagined small coastal California town not too far from Los Angeles. In building the setting, Mallery has added in a few too many unnecessary details, like the names of the restaurants the women have lunch at or where they get their lattes. These things might be pertinent in later books but they jump out to the reader as just a touch too much here. She does a good job building complete and realistic characters though, as each of the women are unique and believable, as are their situations and the choices they face. The support they offer to one another feels right and certain scenes are completely spot on in their emotional depth as each of the women faces grief over the loss of the life she thought she was going to lead. The narration is third person but it shifts focus from one character to the next, sometimes from paragraph to paragraph giving the story a bit of a choppy feel. The latter part of the book focuses mainly on Pam and the sudden, unexpected way in which her life changes. This focus makes it easiest to identify with her as a character. While Shannon and Nicole are also blindsided by things in their lives, the depth of exploration of these blows is much more shallow than in Pam's case. The novel looks like a light read but in fact it is a serious and oftentimes depressing tale with only the women's friendship offering any hope and light. Mallery's legion of fans will likely adore this as it is very much stamped with her aesthetic, even if it is not a traditional romance and leaves a few threads untied for future books in the series.

For more information about Susan Mallery and the book, take a look at her website, like her Facebook page, follow her on Twitter, or check out the book's Goodreads page. Follow the rest of the blog tour or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.


  1. So I went and totally spoiled this one for myself because I couldn't see myself reading it but still wanted to know what happened. If I saw this in a bookstore, I'd totally have judged it as shallow chick lit (I'm, unfortunately, a cover-judger). It sounds like it was so much more, and I like the fact that female friendship is at the center of the story. Glad you enjoyed.

  2. Thanks for being a part of the tour.


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts