“Laura Pedersen delivers . . . Throughout, you can’t help but think how hilarious some of the scenes would play on the big screen.”—The Hartford Courant
“There could be no doubt left in anyone’s mind that my life had all the makings of a country-and-western song.”
The second of seven children (with another on the way), Hallie Palmer has one dream: to make it to Vegas. Normally blessed with an uncanny gift for winning at games of chance, she’s just hit a losing streak. She’ s been kicked out of the casino she frequents during school hours, lost all her money for a car on a bad bet at the track, and has been grounded by her parents. Hallie decides the time as come to cut her losses.
Answering an ad in the local paper, she lands a job as yard person at the elegant home of the sixty-ish Mrs. Olivia Stockton, a wonderfully eccentric rebel who scribes acclaimed poetry along with the occasional soft-core porn story. Under the same wild roof is Olivia’s son, Bernard, an antiques dealer and gourmet cook who turns out mouthwatering cuisine and scathing witticisms, and Gil, Bernard’s lover, whose down-to-earth sensibilities provide a perfect foil to the Stocktons’ outrageous joie de vivre. Here, in this anything-goes household, Hallie has found a new family. And she’s about to receive the education of her life.
From a wonderful new voice in fiction comes the freshest and funniest novel to barrel down the pike since Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café. In Beginner’s Luck, Laura Pedersen introduces us to the endearing oddballs and eccentrics of Cosgrove County, Ohio, who burst to life and steal our hearts–and none more so than Hallie Palmer, sixteen, savvy, and wise beyond her years, a young woman who knows life is a gamble . . . and sometimes you have to bet the house.
When Hallie Palmer, a 16-year-old gambling whiz kid, gets kicked off her Ohio high school's soccer team for skipping class, she quits school altogether. With her parents and six siblings breathing down her neck, she also decides to leave her chaotic home, hiding in the summerhouse of the Stocktons the delightfully quirky family for whom she's just started doing yard work. Pedersen (Going Away Party), a wunderkind in her own right who had a seat on the floor of the American Stock Exchange at the age of 20, uses her financial background and expertise as a childhood card shark to concoct this buoyantly zany coming-of-age tale. Hallie is at first perplexed and then captivated by the Dickensian residents of the Stockton manse. There's the enthusiastically eccentric, multi-cause obsessed Olivia, the 62-year-old grande dame of the family who takes care of her Alzheimer's-afflicted husband; Bernard, her foppish son, who owns an antique store and is a gourmet cook of outlandish theme meals; his partner, Mr. Gil, the self-proclaimed "normal one," who is into "tooth prognostication"; and Rocky, a mixed drink guzzling chimpanzee trained to work with paraplegics. Pedersen has a knack for capturing tart teenage observations in witty asides, and Hallie's na vet , combined with her gambling and numbers savvy, make her a winning protagonist. As the first trade paperback original in the five-year-old Ballantine Reader's Circle series, this novel is funny and just quirky enough to become a word-of-mouth favorite. A preview of Pedersen's next book, an unlikely romantic comedy featuring a terminally ill Scotsman and a dying cloistered nun, also shows great promise.