Olivia Westerly's father disowned her when she tossed her nose in the air and left home in pursuit of a job he considered scandalous. He expected that she'd marry and settle down into having babies as her friends had done; but Olivia simply couldn't tolerate the thought. Why the mere mention of children sent chills up her spine!Believing that children weigh a woman down like a pocket full of stones, Olivia avoids such entanglements for almost forty years ... but then she meets Charlie Doyle and everything changes. Even though Charlie has a son, and a grandson he's supposedly never seen, Olivia is blinded by love and happily says "I do".That happiness is cut short when Charlie dies on their honeymoon and Olivia returns home to find eleven year old Ethan Allen Doyle sitting on her doorstep. The boy's parents are dead and only two people know the truth of what happened - Ethan Allen isn't talking and the murderer wants to make sure he never does. Olivia is the only one who can stop it from happening.
From page one I found myself squarely in Olivia's court. I loved her spunk and her resolve - even if I didn't agree with her reasoning. She is a hoot and a half - strong, determined, superstitious as all heck, loving and absolutely the kind of friend every woman should have at least one of. Before I realized what was happening, I was also drawn into Ethan's life and he had made a nest for himself in my heart right next to Olivia's - where it should be. This was a 'can't put it down' read - Bette Lee Crosby grabbed me by the heart on page one of Spare Change and dragged me through every emotion known to man before she eased up at the last page and left me with a new love. It doesn't happen often but my top 68 is now my top 69.
There is a bit of an abrupt and unexpected change from Olivia's story to Ethan's on page 29 so pay attention to the chapter headings and don't get lost. I loved the way, before each chapter, we get a page of what could be the character's diary. Just a few paragraphs of their thoughts and feelings in their own words. It made the characters come alive and added to the story line in a way that makes the book a "must read".
Aside from the characters and the plot, which are amazingly well constructed, Ms Crosby's writing style is a treat. It flows quickly and easily and is edged with humour. She is the type of storyteller that can transport the reader to another place and time to the exclusion of all else. I was rather abruptly returned to my living room, after what I thought was just a few minutes of reading after supper, by my husband patting my arm and asking if I was coming to bed. Where did that time go? Doesn't matter - it was time well spent.
Character Development 5
A Taste from page 1 (let's start at the very beginning for a change):
Olivia Ann WesterlyI don't suppose there's a person walking the earth who doesn't now and again think if I had the chance to live my life over, I'd sure as hell do it differently. When you get to a certain age and realize how much time you've wasted on pure foolishness, you're bound to smack yourself in the head and ask, what in the world was I thinking? Everybody's got regrets; myself included.Some people go to the grave without ever getting a chance to climb out of that ditch they've dug for themselves, others get lucky. Of course, the thing about luck is that you've got to recognize it, when it walks up and says hello, the way Charlie Doyle did. But, that;s a long story and to understand it, you've got to start at the beginning.