Wednesday, February 23, 2011
THE WILDWATER WALKING CLUB by Claire Cook (2009) Hyperion, 239 pages
Noreen Kelly takes a buyout from her long-time employer and is dumped by her clandestine boyfriend in one fell swoop. With a trunk full of staff-discounted top-of-the-line running shoes, Noreen decides to reclaim her health, both physically and mentally by striding towards it one step at a time. She is soon joined by her neighbours Tess and Rosie and the three women pledge to clock 10,000 steps/day and plan to reward themselves with a long weekend getaway once they've met their goal.
As part of her package, Noreen attends a weekly group session with a career coach who encourages her to define herself in ways that do not relate to her professional identity and by doing just that she is able to make breakthroughs in other aspects of her life, including in her romantic relationships. Noreen's awakening is helped along by observing Rosie's chickens (nicknamed The Supremes) and their loyal protector, the rooster Rod Stewart. I am not kidding here, folks. The chickens have it all figured out before Noreen does. They don't tolerate disloyalty, and, in fact, had previously pecked to death a former rooster due to his transgressions. As Noreen quips, there's a lot to be learned from chickens.
The three women finally agree on a reward destination: west coast lavender farms, where Rosie is sure to pick up tips to improve her own family-run lavender business and all three of them will enjoy touring local vineyards like the characters in Sideways.
THE WILDWATER WALKING CLUB shows middle-aged women coming to terms with their own identities and contemplating, then accommodating, the balancing act that the responsibility of aging parents and young adult children requires.