At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate's recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate her new lease on life, she'll do the one thing that's always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventures.
Shimmering with warmth, wit, and insight, Joy for Beginners is a celebration of life: unexpected, lyrical, and deeply satisfying.
I loved this book! Her previous novel The School of Essential Ingredients was wonderful, so I knew that I would enjoy this book immensely. Each chapter was told from the perspective of a different woman in this group of friends. And each woman's story was a perfect circle...the endings of their journeys often made my eyes mist as it brought the exact closure needed for that character.
The best way I can describe Bauermeister's books is to say that they are extremely cozy reads. She envelopes you in sounds, textures and smells. She is amazing when it comes to her descriptions of food. Although this is not a foodie book, elements of food are in most of the intertwining stories making this novel all the more cozy.
You also fall in love with the magnificently real characters that unfold before your eyes. It's wonderful that Bauermeister showcases positive female friendships (I much prefer it to reading about catty women). She exhibits a deep understanding of human nature and of complex relationships. Here's an example of one of the author's many little insights gifted to readers:
"'I think love is kind of like those waves out there,' she said. 'You ride one in to the beach, and it's the most amazing thing you've ever felt. But at some point the water goes back out; it has to. And maybe you're lucky--maybe you're both too busy to do anything drastic. Maybe you're good as friends, so you stay. And then something happens--maybe it's something as big as a baby, or as small as him unloading the dishwasher--and the wave comes back in again. And it does that, over and over. I just think sometimes people forget to wait.'" -- pages 45-46
Sigh! So many wonderful little tidbits doled out in this gem of a book! I highly recommend Joy for Beginners to everyone - especially to lovers of literary fiction, foodie fiction, and cozy reads.