It is the summer of 1959 and Mariette Puttnam has just graduated from boarding school. When she returns to her privileged life at home, she isn't sure where life will take her. More schooling? A job? Marriage? Nothing feels right. How could she know that the answer is waiting for her within the narrow stairwell of her father's apparel factory, exactly between the third and fourth floors?
Normally I don't read a book because of it's cover. It's more because of the description of the book, the author or even the publisher. But when I first saw the cover of this book, I immediately thought of Betty Draper from Mad Men. I totally love the design of the cover as it immediately brings to mind a time in history where every one was trying to proper in a time when change was inevitable. Lucky for me I have been a big fan of The Potluck Club series which Eva Marie Everson has co-written. While this is her second solo novel, it is the first one that I've read and I knew I was going to be in for a good read.
I really felt that this book was set perfectly during the time period. I really felt as if I had been magically transported back to the late 50s and early 60s. Everson does a wonderful job with details that make the story come alive. Things like fashion, news bits and pop culture helped to fully create Mariette's world. The book also had a wonderful Southern charm to it without drawing into stereotypes. The only thing that surprised me a bit was that as far as I can recall, there didn't seem to be anything in the book about the civil rights movement which was strange since the story was set in the South.
I felt that I could understand the viewpoints from all sides. First and foremost, Mariette's story showed how she went from being a high school graduate to a woman capable of being a wife and longing to be a mother. I saw her wanting to prove to everyone that she was able to be on her own and not have to depend on everyone. However at the same time, she had to depend on her parents who were not always happy with her decisions. They did love her and even though they disagreed with the choices she and her husband made, they were willing to help her out.
I was worried that the book would focus on how Thayne would focus so much on his new career as a minister and how he would ignore Mariette. I have read other books that use that storyline and make the wife be absolutely miserable throughout the entire book. I really hate how she's supposed to then just forgive her husband and accept him for who he was because he was a good Christian man. I really hate that because I feel that one cannot be a good minister to others if their own family is suffering. Luckily this book did NOT go that route. While Thayne and Mariette do have their share of problems (and there are a lot of them), for the most part they do things together and not have to suffer through them alone. Neither did the book focus on the townsfolk condemning the pastor's wife for not living up to their expectations. That's another overused story line that I really get tired of reading.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The story draws you in straight from the beginning as you are enveloped in Mariette's world. It's not just a story about marriage or young people growing up in the 60s. It's a story that will touch you and if you have a heart, you cannot help but be moved by it. HIGHLY recommended.
This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson is published by Revell (2010)
This review copy was provided by the publisher