When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind...stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she's not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren's personal life isn't chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can't stay on the right side of the law. What's a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.
This was a sweet, engaging and at times, laugh out loud funny tale told through Lauren’s point of view, with the occasional interjection of sense and nonsense from the other characters. A plausible romance, with a love relationship not torn asunder by fear of vampires or pack responsibilities: no, these were real people, with honest issues that many will find applicable to their own lives. There’s nothing wrong at all with escape romance, but the profusion of supernatural and paranormal romance novels often lead readers (and authors) to forget that real people are sometimes as, if not more fascinating than their paranormally infused counterparts.
Written with attention to pacing and characters, the story unfolds to present a series of surprises for Lauren. When the judge awards her a barn that her ex-husband had not mentioned in the assets statement for the divorce proceedings, Lauren finds an old merry go round, still glorious despite the grime and neglect. The carousel is a perfect metaphor for the story, neglected beauty and joy, travelling only in circles and tarnished brass detracting from its glory. Lauren spends much of the book doing just that, relying on her anger, hurt feelings and incorrect assumptions to keep her travelling in one single circle, never looking up or out. As the layers of grime are removed, and the renovation of the merry go round begins, Lauren begins to lose her crust of anger and hurt, and starts to look at her own behaviour as potential cause of her unhappiness.
The narration by Margie Lenhart was a perfect accompaniment to the story: modulating her tone and pacing slightly to indicate the different characters, without overreaching and making it feel forced or overworked, her words brought characters well defined by the author into brilliant bas relief, and the book was a joy to listen to.
For me, there is no requirement that every romance have a happily ever after, but this one does, in a sweetly described scene that left a smile on my face. While the book contains adult themes, and even references to sex, there was no swearing or overt sexual descriptions, this was a sweet read with allusion and reader imagination working to fill in the blanks.
You won’t go wrong with this story for a quiet afternoon listen or read, and you may just find it was your best decision all week.
I received an AudioBook version of the book from the author in exchange for honest review as part of The Heard Word promotion at I am, Indeed. I was not compensated for this review, all conclusions were my own responsibility.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Attorney Lauren can’t wait to finalize her divorce in Donna Fasano’s The Merry-Go-Round, so much so that she takes her husband to court to try to force him to sign the papers. Her husband, Greg, explains to the judge that he doesn’t want to accept the divorce because he feels he owes Lauren money and doesn’t want to finalize things until he pays her back. Lauren’s complaint against Greg is that he let his business, a hardware store inherited from his father, go bankrupt, and it cost so much in debts that Lauren had to drain her retirement fund, spending $60,000 on these debts. He did all this without giving her warning of how things were standing, which is Lauren’s main complaint. But finally, once Greg agrees to sign the divorce papers, the judge awards a one-acre property with a “small shack” on it to Lauren, something she has no idea he has had. Lauren is happy to finally be free of this man forever.
But life doesn’t work that way. Because of all the money Lauren had to spend due to Greg’s debts, her father has had to move in with her, since she has been helping him out financially. But on moving day, Lauren is surprised to find Greg at her father’s apartment, there at the request of her father. He keeps showing up at the house, and Lauren learns that he has been showering and doing laundry there the whole time. Then, visiting the cheap tract of land, Lauren finds a good quality barn there, not a cheap, run-down shack. But what is really special is a very old merry-go-round in it. Just as Lauren is checking out this treasure, she hears a noise and finds Greg there. The reason he has been showering at her house is that he has been living in this barn.
The Merry-Go-Round is a personal journey, a book that explores the progress Lauren makes as she learns to grow from a bitter, self-centered woman to one who learns to look past herself to those around her.
The book continues with Lauren’s dating the father of a client, but nothing is quite good enough. It becomes obvious to the reader that despite all Lauren’s complaints against Greg, he is the one with the exceptional character. The readers watch as Lauren grows and matures, with her father providing a nice contrast to her character. He even begins dating Lauren’s assistant and chief confidant.
The audio version of this book is narrated by Margie Lenhart. Lenhart gives a strong performance, giving good voices for each character, while her reading of the narration of this book clearly offers the energy and fun of the book.
The Merry-Go-Round provides a sweet listening experience. Initially I was turned off by this book by the negative attitude of Lauren and all her complaints, but I enjoyed seeing the personal journey of Lauren as she grows as a person. I give this book four stars.
Would you listen to The Merry-Go-Round again? Why?
Yes, fun story
Who was your favorite character and why?
Greg. He didn't give up on his woman. Sexy too!
What does Margie Lenhart bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Her narration is definitely above average and doesn't detract from the story
Any additional comments?
This was a lovely, realistic romance with likable characters I could relate to. I found myself stealing time from here and there to keep listening, and yet, didn't want it to end.
A funny and light-hearted book that starts with a divorce. Greg and Lauren seem to be complete opposites. Lauren is angry and ended their marriage after 12 years and though Greg didn't want the divorce, he is very patient with her as she attempts to move on. There are some funny, laugh-out-loud moments and a satisfying ending that had a smile on my face.
The audio is very well done. The narrator, Margie Lenhart, has a nice, expressive voice and uses distinctive voices for each of the characters. It is very easy to listen to and I enjoyed it.