Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lisa Wingate's leisurely read, "Firefly Island"

Firefly IslandIn her latest novel, Firefly Island, Lisa Wingate flies through the story of love at first sight and a whirlwind romance, and then her rather whimsical writing ambles through the adjustment to a new life post-wedding in the slower-paced south.  Transmogrifying from a Washington, D. C. legislative assistant to a stay-at-home country mom, Mallory has a lot to learn, but life in Moses Lake, Texas turns out to be a little more exciting than she expects.  Besides, politics is politics, whether on Capitol Hill or in the boondocks. 

Most novels end with the wedding, not begin with it, so you never really know how it works out for the newlyweds.  Not so with Firefly Island.  It was fun to read about Mallory's adjustments to married life and her struggle to stay herself in this completely new role.  What she does not seem to realize is that being part of a couple means change.  No matter how well you may know each other prior to marriage, knowing each other as a couple is a completely different world.  Both parties must bend and flex in order to survive as a couple, and it does not mean "losing yourself," but rather growing more into who you are.  Marriage is stretching for the heart, mind and soul - it highlights the flabby, underused parts that need work (often a lot of work), and it gives greater confidence in the toned parts at which one already excels.  Everyone has to give and take.  Mallory discovers a number of places for growth, from ugly white upper class attitudes to the rather spoiled, uncompromising behavior of a youngest child, but throughout the book she is working through them to reach her potential. 

I do wish we had gotten to know her husband Daniel better; he remains in the background too much to really get a feel for his personality and feelings.  Besides his green eyes and dark hair, all I really know about him is that he is generally easygoing, is passionate in the bedroom, and will occasionally completely lose his temper - nothing much new from chapter six onward.  What makes him tick?  Besides love at first sight and love of his son, why are he and Mallory so great together?  He just seems kind of out there instead of in tune with his family, job, etc.  What does he need to change to make their marriage work?  To me, the novel has more to do with the other man in her life, her new stepson Nick, than her relationship with her husband. 

In the blogging world, when life goes wrong for the blogger, there are two main responses: a) humor, and b) a rant.  Wingate did a good job portraying Mallory as the humorist blogger, whose many mishaps - though perhaps unpleasant at the time - translate well into comical memories, which, in conjunction with her epiphanies and other sundry country experiences, make for an interesting blog.  However, it is very difficult to believe Mallory could have drummed up several hundred followers in only a couple weeks, even with all her acquaintances back east, every Moses Lake resident with internet access, and a blurb in the middle of an article of one "Women's Day" magazine.  She could have dredged up several hundred page views maybe, but followers?  I am skeptical.

Overall, it was a pleasant novel with enough of a mystery to make it more than just a drama.  A little predictable and light on God (Mallory prays on occasion now that she's married), but a nice leisurely read - nothing spectacular.  It has little connection to the others in the series, so it works as a stand-alone.  Three stars.  I received a free copy of this novel from Bethany House Publishers as part of their book review program.  I was in no way required to write a positive review. 

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