‘Divine Moves’ – Ellyn Oaksmith
Seventeen years of loving is a hard habit to break…
Meryl thought things couldn’t get any worse. She’s caught her husband in bed with the neighbor. She just found out she’s broke. Then her outrageous mother, Faye, shows up.
Faye wants to be a grandmother and has money to loan so it’s hard to say no. But what Meryl doesn’t know is that Faye, a former stripper and born again Christian, plans on opening an exotic dance and women’s fitness studio in Meryl’s affluent suburban community.
When Meryl’s book club gets roped into promoting the studio by dancing at a charity tea, they discover that their laced up ‘burb’ isn’t as proper as they think. As her husband fights to win her back, Meryl grows increasingly attracted to a handsome sheriff, recovering from his own loss. As a crisis looms, Meryl must face her demons from the past. But first she has to get through Christmas.
Funny, sad and sweet, ‘Divine Moves’ reveals the forces that derail our lives and the sometimes divine intervention that keeps us on track.
“I’ve been hooked on writing since 4th grade when my story of an alley cat was read in class as an example of a good scene setting. I just about fell off the chair in utter joy. I was a total goner when a film I’d written while at the American Film Institute was screened and people laughed. At the right places!
At Smith College I gave my professor a heart attack when I compared ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’, the book, to the movie.
I write every day from 10-2 although while editing, it’s much longer. I live in Seattle Washington with my family and my shelter dog who is my workout partner. I love to interact with readers on Facebook and Tumblr.”
This is the first book that I have read by Ellyn Oaksmith and I really enjoyed it. I was a bit dubious when I read the blurb and don’t think this gives the novel the justice it deserves. Exploring how a family can be rocked by a single event, ‘Divine Moves’ leaves you wanting every character to find happiness at the end of the story, even though you know it is not going to be possible.
At the start of each chapter, Oaksmith has included a quote from someone about love or marriage. I really enjoyed reading these and found these quite entertaining. Such pessimistic comments about love did make me laugh and provided a break from the story. Indeed, it became quite easy to make links with the characters and their experiences of love in relation to the quotes that the author used.
I really wanted all of the characters in this novel to find happiness at the end of the story, but knew this would ultimately come at the cost of another character’s peace. Sam, the local sheriff, deserves to be happy at last after the death of his wife, but I knew this would ultimately sacrifice Meryl’s fragile marriage and break up the family unit. Yes, it is clear that Meryl finds it difficult to forgive her husband but with the problems being faced by her children, Henry and Nathalie, it had to be Sam that made this sacrifice. I didn’t think it would be possible that Meryl’s mother, Faye, would be such a likeable character after how Meryl behaves towards her, but I enjoyed the force and drama she brought to Meryl’s life. Although Faye has her own demons, she is a breath of fresh air to the troubled household and becomes the rock that her daughter and grandchildren need her to be.
The charity event does not make a proper appearance until the closing of the novel and I did find this surprising. I had assumed that this would be a central part to the story, but instead it focuses on love and family relationships. That being said, it came at a time when Faye and Meryl had a stronger mother-daughter relationship and it was warming to see them being successful together. Indeed, I think it is this release that both characters needed to find each other and whilst there are many references to God and Faye’s Jesus, I did not find this ruining my enjoyment of the story.
This is a great story to read and one that explores cracks in a family unit that were just waiting to appear. It was comforting to see how the characters adapted and the ending gave hope that everything was going to be ok for most of them. I think it would have been good if Oaksmith had included a closing chapter just to summarise how the characters had moved on, but I guess that is just part of the novel’s charm: you are left to imagine that everyone, including Sam, does find their happy ever after.
Click here to get yourself a copy of this novel
To follow the tour of ‘Divine Moves’ by Ellyn Oaksmith, please click here.