Monday, January 23, 2012
L. Diane Wolfe's The Circle of Friends, Book 5
I've been reading like a mad fiend these past few months. I've heard that some writers stop reading fiction so their work isn't muddled by another's voice. Man, I few sorry for them. If I don't write for a while, I get the grumpies. If I don't read for a while, watch out. (I've only sworn off fiction once while I studied for a set of six graduate math exams. It was a horrible, soul-sucking two months.)
Anyhoo, one of the many books I've slurped down includes one written by an author in our blogging community: L. Diane Wolfe's fifth book in The Circle of Friends series centered on Heather Jennings. I picked this one because Diane has blogged that it's the best thing she's written and it takes place in Clemson, SC. I grew up right next door to this college town in Anderson, SC.
When we meet Heather, she's just finished her master's at Duke with a sweet prize. She has a real job! Instead of asking, "Do you want fries with that?", she's both looking forward to and nervous about becoming an assistant basketball coach of the Lady Tigers at Clemson. Cool. That's the good news.
The bad news is the love of her life is living large in Colorado with a) an incredible job as wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, b) a huge house, c) a brand new baby with his wife Sarah. Ouch. And by the way, Sarah was Heather's friend and roommate when she was an undergraduate. Double ouch!
Now this particular pain isn't something that's happened to me—oh wait. In six grade the crush of my life told my best friend he liked her—on my birthday no less. Maybe that's why I identified with Heather right off the bat. I recognized her pain.
Longing and regret are only the start. This book takes you on an emotional roller coaster—which is entirely appropriate because I know Diane loves roller coasters. Heather accepts that her feelings for Matt are a dead end. (Downturn) Then she starts an unlikely relationship with his older brother. (Possible upturn, but with twists and a dark tunnel of uncertainty—is this love or rebound?) Then Heather's father passes away. (Huge drop, even though with her dad's cancer, she knew it was coming.)
The part written after her father's death really struck a chord. I wanted to grab the phone and call my dad. And there's a second emotional tug at the ending that also got me teary, (but in a good way which I won't spoil). If you love well-developed characters, drama and emotion, check this one out.
Image courtesy: cayusa
I know from reading Diane's blog she may consider writing more fiction. My 'two-cents' recommendation would be to bring the southern setting more to the forefront, because there's something I'm just dying to know: Does Clemson still paint the main roads into campus with huge tiger prints? I loved that as a kid. My parents would drive us up there to walk through the botanical gardens, feed the ducks stale bread and then visit their superb ice-cream store. The campus dairy hosted school field trips where you could see a cow with a little round window in its belly. I can't remember what they were studying with this window-to-cow's gut, but it was awesomely gross/fascinating.
Okay, this post just jumped the track. Re-calculating. Have you read any books set in places near to your heart?