Spotlight Review: THE MESSY LIVES OF BOOK PEOPLE by Phaedra Patrick

From the publisher:

The house cleaner of a famous author must carry out her employer’s shocking last wish in this delightful new novel from beloved author Phaedra Patrick.

Mother of two Liv Green barely scrapes by as a maid to make ends meet, often finding escape in a good book while daydreaming of becoming a writer herself. So she can’t believe her luck when she lands a job housekeeping for her personal hero, megabestselling author Essie Starling, a mysterious and intimidating recluse. The last thing Liv expected was to be the only person Essie talks to, which leads to a tenuous friendship.

When Essie passes away suddenly, Liv is astonished to learn that her dying wish was for Liv to complete her final novel. But to do so Liv will have to step into Essie’s shoes. As Liv begins to write, she uncovers secrets from the past that reveal a surprising connection between the two women—one that will change Liv’s own story forever…

“Fans of lively fiction will be instantly drawn into the world Patrick creates with her signature charming, breezy style which is further enlivened with nods to popular literature.” Booklist

https://amzn.to/3MoYYZI

Patrick is known for her charming books, and while this one was a bit light on the charm, it delivered it other ways. Liv is an interesting, multi-dimensional character. Married for 20+ years with two sons, the youngest of which will be starting university in the fall. Her husband is working with his sister to take over their parents’ bookbinding business, and it is keeping him busy for more hours than anyone likes. Liv is working as a maid at three jobs; a young family who really take advantage of her, on a commercial cleaning crew where she is completely ignored, and her favorite job, cleaning Essie Starling’s apartment a few afternoons a week.

Essie is a bestselling author who happens to be Liv’s favorite. She really identifies with her main character, who has been in 19 books already, and Essie is working on her 20th. She is a bit of a strange bird, but is very kind to Liv. When Essie dies rather suddenly, her solicitor contacts Liv with a startling bequest; Essie has asked Liv to complete her final novel. It is all handwritten but ends about 8 chapters too soon. In other words, Liv is going to have to finish it herself. The solicitor also tells her that Essie’s death must be kept secret until November 1, giving her 6 months to complete the book. Liv has always wanted to be a writer, but when her father passed away, money was too tight for her to go to college and she started cleaning houses instead, like her mum. So this presents an amazing opportunity for her, plus it is a full time job so bye-bye crappy other employers.

There is some tension when a journalist tries to find Essie for an interview, and apparently has been talking to as many of Essie’s personal and professional contacts as possible. There is more tension as Liv attends a book fair for the publisher, and is feverishly trying to figure out how to finish the novel. There is a connection between Essie and Liv that goes beyond the obvious, and it takes some time to get there., adding another layer to this remarkable story.

This was a gentle, engrossing read and the pages really flew by. I couldn’t help but root for Liv to get everything she wanted. Patrick gives us another entertaining read, this time set in the book world, which always holds appeal for me.

6/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE MESSY LIVES OF BOOK PEOPLE by Phaedra Patrick. Park Row; Original edition (May 31, 2022). ISBN:‎  978-0778312000. 352p.

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