Fiction, Women's Fiction

The Bette Davis Club, by Jane Lotter


We’re cautioned not to go grocery shopping when we’re hungry. In that same vein I would also say be careful about choosing a new book in the middle of the night.

That is exactly what I did two nights ago, during a fitful sleep with much tossing, turning, and long periods of wakefulness. In an attempt to occupy my mind I drifted over to the Prime Reading section on Amazon, saw a cute book cover and was dazzled by its 4.5 out of 5 star reviews. After downloading it, I was seduced by its sentimental introduction by the author’s daughter, talking about the book’s posthumous publishing. Her mother, always a writer but never quite an author, had finished the book right before she died and, in a labor of love, her grieving family had it published.

All of these things create a certain amount of expectation in a reader, even a sleep-deprived reader in the middle of the night. But, like most things, The Bette Davis Club took on a new appearance in the light of day. It was, sadly, unflattering.

I found the plot to be ridiculous, with asinine characters and writing that is both distracted and desperate. The protagonist, Margo Just, alternately but with the same amount of determination, bathes herself in self-pity and gin martinis. While the story begins with Margo trying to find her niece–an immature runaway bride–it diverges two thirds of the way to take the reader down a completely different path. Suddenly we’re transported back thirty years to a nineteen year old Margo falling in love with an older man. Then, just as quickly, we’re zapped back into the present to tie the original plot up with a tidy little bow. Meanwhile, Margo’s final transformation is as unlikely as the journey it took for her to arrive there.

When I finished the book it was with a simultaneous eye roll and a sigh of relief.

In the “they can’t all be winners” category… 4/10 Stars

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