Laurie Graham is an English writer who writes mostly about British subjects but sometimes gives them a US flair. Her newest novel, "The Early Birds", is a sequel to "The Future Homemakers of America", which was published in 2002. It followed the lives of five or six women - mostly American - during their marriages to American airmen from 1952 onwards. You needn't to have read "Homemakers" to read "The Early Birds"; Graham does a good job in bringing the new reader up to speed on who's who. The new book begins in 1999 and ends in about 2005. It's the story of the old flyers' wives and how they've aged into wisdom and, in most cases, acceptance of others.
This book is woven around Peggy Dewey and her family and friends. Peggy was long divorced from flyer Vern, and has made her way in the Texas world in which she was born and where she returned after her divorce. Bringing up her only child, Crystal, Peggy began a wedding planning company which morphed into a party planning company when one of her bride's mothers did her wrong. Peggy's closest friend and partner in her company was Grice, a gay man who lived with his partner, Tucker Hoose. After Tucker's death, Peggy and Grice are made homeless through the legal machinations of Tucker's cousin. Around the same time, Vern Dewey is diagnosed with Alzheimers and Crystal needs help in taking care of him. Peggy and Grice hit the road, driving from Texas to Maine to pitch in on Vern's care.
Peggy Dewey is hardly the ministering angel when she agrees to look after Vern, in his failing years. She's resentful that her life has come to this and her ambivalence shows in her relationships with Vern and his dim-witted step-son, Eugene, who is SUPPOSED to be caring for Vern, but is more interested in his bait farm, and, in the next few years, 9/11. Because a few months after Grice and Peggy come to Maine, the attacks are carried out and more than a few of the Dewey crew are not convinced of just who did what, where. Conspiracy theories abound...
I've read many of Laurie Graham's books, and most come with a quirky character or a quirky plot point that more conventional authors wouldn't include in a novel. And the 9/11 conspiracy is this novel's quirk. It's only one of the four or five plot points but is quite interesting in Graham's clever hands. She also gives the reader a picture of Alzheimers and how it affects both the individual and those around him. But "The Early Birds" is not a sad novel. Peggy, Grice, and the others are wonderful people who readers might recognise as being like people they know, and often, love.
(By the way, "The Early Birds" is not available yet on Amazon/US. I had to order a copy from England. I certainly hope that Amazon and the various publishers begin to work together to offer British works as Kindle options. For instance, this webpage gives the Kindle option, but states "is not currently available for purchase". If not now, when...?)
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Quercus; 1 edition (11 January 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1784297933
- ISBN-13: 978-1784297930
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 20 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 259 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review