When she has time around her three cleaning jobs and her family, Olivia “Liv” Green is an avid reader. Her favorite character is Georgia Rory. She has read and reread the nineteen books in the Essie Starling series and thinks she knows the character like the back of her hand. But, given the chance, will she be able to finish Georgia’s story? In “THE ORDINARY LIFE OF BOOK PEOPLE” by PHEDRE PATRICK, Liv is about to find out.
In the green household, money is scarce. One son is in college and the other will go in the fall. Also, her husband, Jake’s family bookbinding business is struggling. To help with finances, Liv had to add a third cleaning job. It was with none other than her favorite author, Essie Starling.
Essie is a recluse and not exactly warm or friendly. She refuses to communicate with her agent and editor unless it’s via email or text, and her personal assistants don’t last long. However, she and Liv formed something of a friendship. This bond is put to the test when Essie discovers Liv reading the unfinished draft of Book 20 of the series.
Instead of being reprimanded or fired, Liv is asked to give her honest opinion on not only the draft, but Georgia Rory’s latest novel as well. This opinion, that Essie has lost her passion for her character, translates into a surprise offer: Essie wants to hire Liv to bring the character back to life.
Eager to learn more about what this new arrangement will mean, Liv rushes to Essie’s apartment on her normal cleaning day. However, the apartment is empty and Liv is invited to meet Essie’s attorney, Anthony Pentecost, at a cafe.
Pentecost has surprising news. Essie is deceased and the lawyer must forward her final request to Liv. “Dear Olivia, if Anthony talks to you now, the worst has probably happened. If you need some time off from this job and others, you’ll get paid. If I die, keep my death a secret for six months. During this period, I want you to finish my latest novel.
That’s six months at twice the salary and with a tidy sum for expenses. But is it something Liv can do? She aspired to be a writer when she was young but didn’t have the opportunity to go to college. Deciding that the lack of a degree can be overcome, she is inspired to try. There are 32 gross and dull chapters, eight chapters to write (each Georgia Rory novel has 40 chapters), and less than six months to meet the November 1 deadline.
As she begins rewriting the draft, Liv finds herself struggling with where Georgia should go and who will be her last love. Liv has to channel Essie, but writing in the apartment and wearing Essie’s clothes aren’t enough. Learning more about Essie is the only way for Liv to move forward with writing.
Revealing the author’s past is difficult. It also adds tension to his marriage. Liv and Jake have broken up and becoming empty nests shows the cracks in their relationship. She can’t tell him about Essie’s death, her finishing the novel, or her quest to uncover Essie’s past.
Will uncovering Essie’s secrets help or hinder completing the novel? One thing is certain, Liv is finding a new path. Can her marriage survive the changes to come?
If you’re like me and you like fiction series, would you like to put yourself in Liv’s shoes and decide on the ending of your favorite series? The library has this title in regular and large print. Similar suggested readings are “The Reading List” by Sara Adams and “Beach Read” by Emily Henry.
Patty Crane is the Reference Librarian for the Joplin Public Library.