Sunday 19 August 2018

Book ~ "The Fixer Upper" (2009) Mary Kay Andrews

From Goodreads ~ After a political scandal, fledgling lobbyist Dempsey Jo Killebrew is left almost broke, unemployed and homeless. She reluctantly accepts to refurbish Birdsong, the old family place in Guthrie, Georgia.

But, oh, is Dempsey in for a surprise. "Bird Droppings" would more aptly describe the moldering Pepto Bismol pink dump. There's also a murderously grumpy old lady who has claimed squatter's rights and isn't moving out. Ever.

Furthermore, everyone in Guthrie seems to know Dempsey's business, from a smooth-talking real-estate agent to a cute former lawyer who owns the local newspaper. It wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the pesky FBI agents who show up on Dempsey's doorstep, hoping to pry information about her ex-boss from her.

All Dempsey can do is roll up her sleeves and get to work. And before long, what started as a job of necessity somehow becomes a labor of love and, ultimately, a journey that takes her to a place she never expected back home again.

Dempsey is a lobbyist working in Washington for Alex.  She gets caught up in a scandal caused by Alex and he pushes the blame her way.  With no job or money, she heads to Birdsong, a big ole house that her father has just inherited from Uncle Norbert about an hour outside of Atlanta.  Her father says if she fixes the house up so they can sell it, he'll split the profits with her.  With no other options, she packs up her meager belongings and takes on this challenge.

When Dempsey gets to Birdsong, she discovers the house is in worse shape than her father thought.  Everything has to be renovated and her father has given her an $80,000 budget to get it all done.  So she has to digs in and start learning how to do the manual labour.  Plus she discovers that Ella Kate, Uncle Norbert's elderly and crusty caregiver, is living in the house with her dog and has no intention of leaving.

FBI agents are investigating the scandal and have all the proof they need to put Dempsey in prison for about 15 years.  But if she cooperates with them, they may be able to give her a break.  She eventually hires Carter, Uncle Norbert's lawyer, and starts dating his son, Tee.

I've read quite a few books by this author ... I didn't really like this one and didn't enjoy the story.  It is written in first person perspective in Dempsey's voice.  I hated the way the blue-collar locals spoke ... they sound so illiterate, for example saying "I brung this" or "I done that".  As a head's up, there is swearing and adult activity.  There are recipes at the end of the book.

I found it unbelievable that one minute she is living a life in Washington with pedicures/manicures and suits and the next her father is sending her off to renovate his house.  He had confidence in her abilities because she coloured a couple chairs in her Barbie house about 20 years ago!  The next thing we know, she's sanding cupboard doors, stripping floors, etc. like a pro!

I didn't find most of the characters likable.  Dempsey is in her late twenties and graduated from law school but she had the maturity of someone much younger.  When news of the scandal hit and she was threatened with prison time and everyone was advising her to talk to a lawyer, she resisted ... because she didn't want to hurt Alex's feelings?!  Really?!

I hated Ella Kate and didn't find her amusing at all.  She was unappreciative and rude beyond belief.  I would have kicked her out of the house the second there was conflict.  Plus Ella Kate was stereotypically racist ... she wanted an "American" doctor rather than the East Indian one and she called a nurse "coloured".  Even Shorty, Ella Kate's dog, was cranky.

Dempsey's parents were awful.  Her father and stepmother were condescending and A-holes and never nice to her.  Her mother was a flake.  It was weird that Dempsey usually called them by their first names rather than "Mom" and "Dad".

Carter and Tee become Dempsey's friends and Tee is in love with her after about hour of meeting her.  Seriously?!  It seems like the story took place over a couple weeks and even though she pushes him away, Dempsey and Tee end up in love in the end (sorry to ruin the surprise of the happy ending).

I thought it was odd, though the story was written in and I'm assuming set in 2009, the only album Dempsey has on her ipod was Michael Jackson's Thriller, which came out in 1982, around the time she was born.  Why Thriller?!  I like listening to older albums but I mix it up.

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