Friday 14 February 2014

Book ~ "The Latecomers Fan Club" (2013) Diane V. Mulligan

From Goodreads ~ What is it about guys with guitars in their hands that makes them so irresistible, even when they are obviously self-centered jerks? If Abby and Maggie could answer that question, maybe they could finally get over Nathaniel. There’s just something about him when he picks up his guitar and gets behind the microphone, something that makes sensible women act like teenyboppers instead of rational, self-respecting adults.

Abby was first sucked in by Nathaniel’s rock ’n roll swagger four years ago when a drunken fling turned into a series of drunken hook-ups that became something like a relationship. Now, as New Year’s Eve promises a fresh start, she wants to believe he’s finally going to grow up and take their relationship seriously.

What does Nathaniel hope the New Year will bring? An escape from the disappointing realities of his life. He’s thirty-four years old and he’s barely making ends meet as an adjunct philosophy professor, which was always only a backup plan anyway. Nathaniel's real goal was always to make his living as a musician but his band, The Latecomers, broke up a couple of years ago and he hasn’t picked up his guitar in months. When he decides to spend the holiday with some high school friends instead of hanging out at the bar where Abby works, he gets the happy surprise of reuniting with his long-lost friend Maggie. Newly divorced, Maggie has just moved back to her mother’s house to regroup.

Nathaniel and Maggie were supposed to be the ones who left Worcester forever to conquer the world. He was going to be a rock star. She was going to take the world of art by storm. He’s never gotten farther than Boston and her best efforts only left her broke and heartbroken. As they ring in the New Year together, Nathaniel decides it’s time to take control of his life and to start making his dreams come true. He thinks the first step will be easy. All he needs to do is break up with Abby and finally admit his feelings for Maggie. But the New Year has more surprises in store, and nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

Abby is a bartender.  She met Nathaniel at the bar where she works four years ago when he and his band were playing.  What started out as a one night stand is still going on.  Abby is in love with Nathaniel and is there to support him when he gets down and starts drinking.  He's haunted by not fulfilling his dreams of being a musician in his band, The Latecomers, and having to be a professor at a couple colleges to be able to pay his bills.  For Nathaniel, Abby is convenient and he does appreciate her when she is there for him.  But he knows she wants more and he can't give it to her but he's can't be bothered to cut her loose.

Maggie was Nathaniel's childhood best friend.  They both felt it was something more as they grew into their teens but Nathaniel never let it go too far.  Maggie went away to university and met and married someone else.  That marriage recently ended in divorce and she has moved back home to live with her mother until she figures out what to do with her life.  Her dreams of being an artist never materialized and the only job she can find is working in the Misses section of the department store.

Things start to change for all three of them on New Years Eve.  Abby has to work that night. Rather than hang out with her, Nathaniel goes to a friend's party, where he runs into Maggie.  They start talking and tentatively start their friendship again.

This is the first book I've read by this author.  I liked the writing style.  I thought it flowed well and the pace was fine.  As a head's up, the language and some activity is for a mature reader.

I liked the minor characters like Breanna (Abby's roommate), the various parents, etc.  I can't say I liked the main characters much, though.  Abby is young (in her twenties) and ever hopeful ... and a doormat for Nathaniel.  Breanna is always telling her that she can do better but she keeps hanging on to Nathaniel, even though he treats her badly.  By the end of the book, I liked that she had become strong.

Nathaniel and Maggie are in their mid-thirties.  Life hasn't turned out how they'd hoped for either one of them but instead of doing something about it, they choose to whine and complain.  I thought it was awful the way Nathaniel treated Abby but it was partly her own fault since she continued to take it.

Maggie married a rich guy for all the wrong reasons.  When that marriage broke up, she had nowhere else to go so moved back in with her mother outside Boston.  Why she didn't get a settlement when she divorced her husband ... they lived in California so wasn't half of everything hers?   She's well-educated but has never done anything but be a rich guy's wife because it was easy.

This was an interesting story about how life doesn't always turn out how you thought it would and how different people deal with it.


Mary Preston said...

The writing style is always very important to me. Good to note.


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting! Readers, leave a comment or ask the author a question to win a $25 Amazon, BN, or iTunes GC.

MomJane said...

sounds rather interesting to watch how people choose to live.

Masshole Mommy said...

I would totally read this one.

Diane Vanaskie Mulligan said...

Thanks for hosting and for your thoughtful review! It's so interesting to get readers' insights.

To answer your question about Maggie's divorce and why, given her location in CA, she didn't get more out of it, things in CA are little a more complicated than a simple 50/50 split of assets. A couple can have a pre-nuptial agreement, and also property that one party acquired pre-marriage (so for instance her husband's condo) would not be split 50/50. In earlier versions of the book, I had more of the nitty gritty details on her divorce, but in the final draft, the story starts a little later, after more time has passed, so I never got into it.

Rita Wray said...

Sounds like a good read.

ilookfamous said...

I've added this to my tbr. It promises to offer a more in depth look into relationship dynamics than typical YA or NA books. Thanks for sharing.

bn100 said...

The premise sounds interesting

bn100candg at hotmail dot com

Natasha said...

Sounds like a great read!!
Thanks for the chance to win!
natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com