Monday, June 15, 2020

Eliza Starts a Rumor by Jane L. Rosen

I've had this novel on my radar for quite some time, and I had a chance to read an advanced digital copy (but for a limited time). I noticed I had just a few days left before my time was up, so I sped through it this weekend. To be honest, it wasn't hard to do--I got hooked and couldn't put it down. 

Eliza has been the moderator of the Hudson Valley Ladies' Bulletin Board for over fifteen years. It's basically an online digital discussion group where women can post questions and others chime in with answers or suggestions. It's Eliza's one lifeline, since she's home alone after her twins have gone to college. Eliza also suffers from agoraphobia, and hasn't left the house in months. She had one bout in high school that lasted a few months, then one day it disappeared and she returned to her normal routine. Now, years later, she's suffering from it again, and can't tell her loving husband Luke. Instead, she has an elaborate system set up so he never suspects she doesn't leave the house. 

One day, Eliza manages to get to the grocery store. Sweating, shaking, and close to being physically ill, she's in the donut aisle when she overhears two younger women talking about an online discussion group--a newer one that is more titillating than The Hudson Valley Ladies' Bulletin Board. In fact, the ladies scoff at Eliza's board. She gets home and checks out the other board, and sees it's more popular and current than her board. 

Eliza decides the only way to bring people back to her bulletin board is by starting a rumor. A rumor that has lasting effects on the community she lives in, and the women who follow her board. 

Along the way, Eliza meets Olivia and Allison, two new moms who are new to the area and trying to make connections. There's also Amanda, Eliza's childhood friend, who has returned from Los Angeles with her two girls after her husband has been accused of sexual misdeeds as a famous producer in Hollywood. Oh, so many issues! And yet you never get confused about what's going on, and each woman's story is equally readable. I couldn't even begin to pick which one I enjoyed the most. The plot is at times funny, charming, sad, hopeful, and troubling. It's a quick read, and the last 50 pages just flew by. 

I did begin Jane Rosen's previous novel: Nine Women, One Dress a few months ago, but I lost focus and returned it to the library. I think it was at the beginning of the Covid-19 mess, when I stared at the TV for hours and couldn't read anything. So I am probably going to return to that novel and gulp it down. Maybe now is the right time!

This is a great read if you're going on a short trip and need something engaging but not 500 pages. Something you can finish in a weekend. There's lots of wine drinking, so you may want to have a bottle on standby. 

Rating: 4/6 for a novel that brings together women over a rumor that blows up a community, and leads to a lot of life-changing decisions. A cast of characters you'll enjoy, plenty of drama, but a lot of lighter moments, too. 

Available in hardcover, audio, and ebook on June 23, 2020 in the United States. Thanks to Edelweiss for an advanced e-copy. 

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