Something New (October 2012) by Malena Lott is a charming romantic novel that delves much deeper into the passions and secrets of its characters than other typical books of this genre. Based upon Mark Twain’s popular The Prince and the Pauper, Lott sets her fourth novel in urbane downtown Oklahoma City, where three female generations of the privileged Apple family, scions of local society, share a loft, their lives, and their ostensibly quixotic quests for true love while facing the possibility of financial ruin.
Maeve Apple, 85, has Alzheimer’s and believes she is 25 again starring in The Princess and the Pauper, a musical being revived by the local theater. Her daughter, Bess, in the throes of a nasty divorce, struggles with Maeve’s care while despairing that love will never fill her life again. Bess’ two daughters, Kelly, 35, and Gwen, 25, come to grips with life’s harsh realities. Workaholic Kelly, without hope of finding a husband, secretly opts to have a baby via artificial insemination. Curvaceous Gwen is engaged (with wedding plans featured on the Luxe Weddings reality television show) but isn’t sure that her fiancé is really the true love of her life. And all are threatened with the loss of their ostentatious wealth supposedly secured by family-owned corporations and inheritances.
Something New goes beyond the superficial romance novel formulaic where girl and boy fall passionately in love and live happily ever after. Here, the talented author gives a true-to-life look into love’s many evolving facets that go deeper than mere physical attraction. Here are captivating multi-layered personae with inner dreams and doubts, hopes despite failures, happiness in the face of sadness—all searching together for something new in their lives: a second chance for a new beginning.
This well-written 322-page trade paperback novel is a delightfully engaging fast read. Once I started it, I couldn’t stop; I finished it in one sitting. I was immediately mesmerized by each of the heroines, who alternately give a first-person account of her story. Mott’s ability to switch writing styles to suit each personality is refreshing. Her simple, down-to-earth approach exposes the innermost feelings and desires of each character, frankly tapping the gnarled roots and complicated emotions of the human heart. There is, also, the winning combination of creatively used modern colloquialisms and writing that sparkles with a wickedly subtle sense of humor. The character of Maeve, for example, is a hoot. If nothing else, this romance cum literary narrative should be read just for the joy of meeting her.
If you are not already a devotee of the more sophisticated romance novel, then I hardily suggest you try this one. It is a winningly tender and thought-provoking read for the romantic in all of us, young as well as old alike.
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