All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison

on February 2, 2018

The Dirty Book Club 
Lisi Harrison
Gallery Books
2018, 309p
Copy courtesy of Simon & Schuster AUS

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

You know you want to join.

M.J. Stark’s life is perfect. But behind her success, there is a debilitating sense of loneliness. So when her boyfriend offers her a new life in California, she gives it a try. Once there, M.J. is left to fend for herself in a small beach town, with only the company of her elderly neighbor, Gloria.

One afternoon, M.J. discovers that Gloria has moved to Paris to honor a fifty-year-old pact. And in lieu of a good-bye, she’s left an invitation to a secret club–one that reads only erotic books. Curious, M.J. accepts and meets the other members: Addie, who avoids responsibility at all costs. Britt, an overworked mom who’s feeling lonely and desperate. And romantic Jules, whose fairy-tale life is slowly unraveling. As they bond over naughty bestsellers and the letters they inherit from the original club members, the strangers start to divulge the details of their own lives… and as they open up, they learn that friendship might be the key to rewriting their own stories.

I love the idea of a book club. So much. Growing up I was such a voracious reader but very few of my friends read. I was lucky in primary school I had a good reading friend….but then we moved. I found a good reading friend in high school but then she moved. And so for the rest of the time until I went to uni, I didn’t have a reading friend. Someone to talk books with, share books with. I’ve tried book clubs over the years but to be honest, I’ve never really found one that was about the books. They usually morphed into meetings about the member’s holidays or whatever and I ended up losing interest pretty quickly. So I was super interested in this, it sounded like a lot of fun and like my sort of book club!

I definitely got more than I bargained for. M.J. works in New York but when her expected promotion doesn’t go the way she thought, she quits and moves on a whim across the country to where her boyfriend lives in California. Dan is a doctor and he’s booked a surfing trip to Indonesia just after M.J. arrives, leaving her alone. She meets a neighbour Gloria, but it’s a short-lived friendship – however one that has an impact on M.J.’s life when Gloria leaves her an invitation to her book club. Years ago she and her three friends created a secret book club where they read the sort of books that ladies would never admit to in polite society. But it was more than just that, it was also a way to share the more intimate details and secrets of their lives.

Each of the members left an invitation to someone else and the four women are basically strangers when they attend the first meeting. Some are less than enthusiastic about this, others are more ‘well, I’m not doing anything else, so why not’. Each of them have things in their lives that are not what they’d hoped for – marriages that have seemingly gone stale, dissatisfaction in their careers, various pressures. The meetings become an outlet for them. Although the girls lack the already close friendship of the original four, they develop their own unique friendships although that’s not to say that everything goes smoothly. There are some resentments and reluctance and the rule of the bookclub is ‘one out, all out’ so the second one of them quits, that will be the end of it. I really liked the information about the books they read (or didn’t read, like my old book club, reading the book is optional!). Each of the books are ‘erotic’ – some from the past, some from the present day. I found the 50 Shades Of Grey discussion quite interesting, as it’s a very polarising book.

The emphasis in this book is on the developing and unusual friendship between these women (and on the friendship of the women in the past, although after the prologue this is really only experienced in the letters that each of the members leave behind) and I liked the way this was portrayed. It was a bit messy, there was some antagonism, some issues and people made mistakes. They didn’t naturally gravitate to each other and become friends. I think once you get past school/uni etc it can be hard to make those really good friends. You have to put in a lot of effort to find people and perhaps cultivate a friendship and I thought that aspect was shown well, especially as M.J. was new to the area. However, I do have to say that even though the emphasis wasn’t on men, or romance or anything like that, but on the friendship between women, I do find that the lack of that aspect left me feeling a bit unsatisfied and like the story was a little unfinished. The women had careers (or were currently figuring out their careers), they had their interesting friendship and I wanted to know how the rest of their lives rounded out too. We got a few answers with some, but not with others and I wish there’d been something a little more for them. But as I said, I do understand that wasn’t the focus of the book.

All in all, I found this quite a quick and enjoyable read.


Book #21 of 2018

One response to “Review: The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison

  1. Great review! I really want to check this one out! 🙂

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