Sunday, December 29, 2013
by Janis Thomas
Berkley Books 2013
386 Pages Fiction
The title says it all--"Sweet Nothings." It is a trifle, a cupcake of a novel. It can be read in a couple of sittings, much like a cookie can be eaten in a couple of bites. But like a cookie, or a cake, you just gotta have a book like Sweet Nothings occasionally. Janis Thomas, the author, calls her books "Chick lit grows up" by which she means matrimonial suburbia, where the mundane aspects of life take over.
Sweet Nothings is a book about resilience. Ruby is the owner of a sweets bakery called Muffin Tops. In the opening chapters of the book her husband leaves her and their two children for another woman--not a sweet young thing, but a woman of his own age. This is almost a bigger insult than if he had left Ruby for a 20-something hottie. Ruby pulls herself together in short order with panache and great humor. She has a very rye way of looking at the world, but she is nothing but honest with herself, her children, and her world. She figures out a way to make her bakery profitable so that she can support her family. Ruby is a very likeable character, and her journey to a new life is inspiring. The closing lines of the book share her journey: "It's never too late to dream. It's never too late to believe."
The beauty of Sweet Nothings is that the serious topic of a woman left in the lurch could have been told with pain and suffering, but instead it is told with humor.There's a lot of baking in this book which adds to its enjoyment. Although there is very little remarkable about Sweet Nothings, it was a perfect book to read the week before our huge family descended on us for Christmas. Thank goodness for that, because there was no way that I could have read a heavy book as I was doing my own cooking and baking before the holidays. It actually may be the reason that I baked more than I usually do. Ruby's efforts inspired me. My children and grandchildren should thank her.
Ruby reminded me a little of Diane Mott Davidson's character Goldy, and although there is no mystery involved in Sweet Nothings, the feistiness and humor are similar. I also remembered a friend whose husband left her for another middle-aged woman. She came to work one day with a picture of her ex with the new woman, who looked older and chubbier than my friend. The first thing out of my mouth was "He left you for her!" My friend told me that was the best thing that anyone said about the divorce. Ruby had some of those same emotions. All jilted women should be so strong.
Janis Thomas' website: http://www.janisthomas.com