Today we have a review from Alison, she blogs at alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com
Alison chose to read and review The Relationship Shoppe by Susan Paulson Clark
Marian and Belle run a business selling self-help/relationship books through a website that also offers advice to those going through relationship difficulties. They have their own problems – both having recently divorced. Belle comes from a dysfunctional family, and Marian has too young children to care for. The book focuses mostly on Marian and her journey from struggling single mom to potentially finding fulfilment in both her business and personal lives.
It’s a good idea for a contemporary novel and is full of characters and events that lots of women will no doubt identify with. However, I found it hard to really like the characters. Marian seemed rather judgemental, of herself as well as of others and her ‘turning the other cheek’ philosophy annoyed me. She allowed herself to be treated badly, ignoring her ex’s rude comments and jibes from Belle, supposedly because it made her a better person and was a way of dealing with conflict. I wanted her to lose her temper once in a while, to bite back and say what she was really feeling – to be human. I found her very hard to identify with, which made it difficult to care about what happened to her, which is a shame because she has real potential as a character.
I also felt that the book wasn’t quite ready. There are elements that need work. There is a lot of unnecessary back and forth. There were also issues with the timeline of the novel and events being mentioned out of the blue (Belle going away on holiday with Stefan for example). There were also too many convenient aspects; Marian just seemed to meet people who could help her – something that doesn’t happen all that often in reality.
Susan Paulson Clark can write and there are some very good aspects to this – a cast of characters that have the potential to be extremely entertaining and a great idea for a storyline. But unfortunately, it’s just not quite there yet.
3 out of 5 stars.