Five challenging years have passed in the lives of the ladies of Bad Girl Creek. Beryl, Nance, Ness, and Phoebe have experienced their share of hardship and heartache, but also much happiness.
Beryl now lives with Earl in Alaska, where the fissures in their relationship have started to spread. When Earl disappears one wintry night, some dark and desperate memories surface, forcing Beryl to take inventory and withdraw from her friends while she works things out. Nance, on the heels of a string of devastating miscarriages, has been advised to stop trying for a baby. Phoebe finds herself overwhelmed by her own daughter, Sally, who is five-years-old-going-on-thirty; meanwhile she is being romanced by an enigmatic Southern charmer named Andrew. And Ness tenderly nurses David Snow as he gradually succumbs to AIDS. The farm's successes have brought profits, but when a nursery opens across the road, the bar is set higher yet again. As Beryl wonders at Earl's fate, she is isolated by more than geography. Even as her friends in California are wondering what happened to Beryl, Beryl wonders the very same thing.
But life rolls on, and in the midst of myriad misfortunes come explosive surprises. The old friends are challenged to reunite once again, to rediscover with fresh eyes the powerful words in Aunt Sadie's journal: Live life to the fullest. Love as often as you can. Regret nothing. Eat hearty. Laugh often. Plant flowers. And don't forget to dance.
A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.GOODBYE, EARL: A Bad Girl Creek NovelJo-Ann Mapson. Simon & Schuster, $24 (384p) This is the last episode in the Bad Girl Creek trilogy (Bad Girl Creek; Along Came Mary), and that's a shame, because readers will miss Mapson's quirky, gutsy protagonists and the cozy familiarity of their steadfast friendship. Five years have passed in the lives of girlfriends Beryl, Phoebe, Nance and Ness. Beryl is living in Anchorage on the verge of a breakup with Earl, the man she thought was the love of her life. Phoebe, still in the Central California coastal town of Bayborough-by-the-Sea, is kept busy with the challenge of raising her precocious five-year-old daughter, Sally, and operating the flower business she inherited from her Aunt Sadie. Still mourning the loss of Sally's father, Phoebe resists the idea of a new man in her life until Andrew comes along. Nance and husband James, Phoebe's brother, appear to have it all looks, money, social position and true love but lack the one thing they yearn for: a child. And Ness is nursing David, good friend and AIDS sufferer, at a condo they're renting in Tucson, Ariz. The two make a last trip to California since David's dying wish is to view the ocean just one more time. The story unfolds as in the two previous novels each chapter is told from a different character's point of view but this time Beryl plays a central role as her breakup with Earl takes a series of bizarre twists and turns. With warmhearted narrative and lively dialogue Mapson has created another good curl-up-by-the-fireplace-with-a-cup-of-cocoa book.