Joy For Beginners: Review and Free Giveaway

by Erica Bauermeister Joy For Beginners

Release date: 2010 / 269 pages

Synopsis (from the back cover): At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate’s recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them: to celebrate her new lease on life, she’ll do the one thing that’s always terrified her: white-river rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they’d never do — and Kate is going to choose their adventures…

First Sentence: Life came back slowly, Kate realized.

Review: About once a year I find a book that I want to buy for every woman I love…  Two years ago, this was The Help and last year Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand found its way into many stockings.  This year, I think Joy for Beginners will be my pick.  I delighted in Bauermeister’s lyrical, luminous, palpable prose and had flagged so many passages after only the first section.  The characterization is exceptional as well, but the writing is truly exquisite.

As the plot synopsis states above, the narration revolves around a group of friends who have each been assigned a challenge.  Each chapter focuses on one woman’s journey to accomplish this challenge; however, since the friends’ lives are intertwined, familiar faces surface throughout each narrative.  Each character’s voice is authentic, unique, and finely wrought, and initially I hated turning the last page of each section, knowing my time with that woman was drawing to a close.  But within a few paragraphs of the next section, I was enthralled again — so much so, that I intentionally slowed my reading of this work in order to savor each section.

I would be remiss if I did not include at least a few of the many passages I flagged.  So, here is a taste of what I loved:

On empty nest syndrome: “Now, with Jack and Brad both gone, walking through her house was like driving the curves of a familiar but poorly maintained country road. She leaned into its rhythms naturally as she walked in the front door…”

On geography: “Marion was originally from the Midwest, a geographical inheritance that didn’t so much cling as grow up through her.  Her face had the openness of cornfields and river bottoms, a calm belief in herself nourished by thick, green summer air, the feel of slow water moving beneath the hull of a canoe.”

On finding the perfect home: “But to Hadley the house had been perfect, its main entrance a side one, hidden by an arbor drenched in climbing roses. Loneliness would look for a front door, Hadley thought, might not track her down the narrow bark-covered path, might get lost among the unruly green, the whispered distractions of sweet white scents.”

On finding the perfect scent: “As she asked her clients about their lives, she watched them relax and become expansive, their initial responses like top notes, designed for quick inhalation, leading to more reflective insights under the warmth of her attention.  Ava learned to wait for the base note; it would tell her what she needed most to know. Usually it was something hidden — a sorrow, a joy, an anger or a desire to be kind. Beneath all the day-to-day maneuverings of a personality, the base note remained constant, a color upon which all the others rested but which was rarely acknowledged or perceived.”

I loved this work so much that I’m afraid for once I am going to keep my copy!  However, the publisher has graciously offered to giveaway an additional copy!  So, if you are interested, please leave me a comment and I will choose a winner by the weekend!

Monday, June 6th:  Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, June 7th:  Raging Bibliomania

Wednesday, June 8th:  Books, Movies, and Chinese Food

Thursday, June 9th:  Jenny Loves to Read

Friday, June 10th:  Amusing Reviews

Monday, June 13th:  Book Club Classics!

Tuesday, June 14th:  2 Kids and Tired

Wednesday, June 15th:  Books and Movies

Thursday, June 16th:  Joyfully Retired

Friday, June 17th:  Redlady’s Reading Room

Monday, June 20th:  Luxury Reading

Tuesday, June 21st:  Teresa’s Reading Corner

Wednesday, June 22nd:  Rundpinne

Thursday, June 23rd:  Lit and Life

Friday, June 24th:  Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, June 27th:  The Brain Lair

Tuesday,June 28th:  Library of Clean Reads

Wednesday, June 29th:  Life in Review

Thursday, June 30th:  POOF.. books

Date TBD:  Bookish Ruth

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45 Responses to Joy For Beginners: Review and Free Giveaway

  1. Deb says:

    This sounds like a book that I would love. About to send my first child off to college and I am in a very speculative state…I would love to win a copy!

  2. Debbie says:

    This sounds like a totally enjoyable read! I would love to win it.

  3. Linda W says:

    Your comments really make this book sound intriguing. Please enter me in the drawing.

  4. Patricia Williams says:

    I am reading The Help now, it is great. My husband read it in about two evenings. If he reads one that fast I know I have to get into it next. Thanks for all of the info I receive from this web site. I love it

  5. Steve says:

    I want to read this book

  6. SandyG says:

    Thanks for a chance to win this book, it looks like a fun read. Have a great day!

  7. Sue says:

    You had me from the title! Please include me – thanks!

  8. Anita Yancey says:

    This book sounds like it would be a real delight to read. Please enter me. Thanks!

  9. Marianne says:

    Sounds great! I would love to read it. Please put me in the drawing…

  10. Margie says:

    Sounds intriguing! Thanks for the giveaway.

  11. Wendy says:

    This sounds like a wonderful read! Thanks for the great review.

  12. Sherrie Gil says:

    This sounds like a great book to read, with great content.

  13. Maria D. says:

    This sounds like a fabulous book. I usually give my friends gift cards instead of books (that way they can choose their own) but this sounds like something I would want to gift to them too. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  14. Carol Wong says:

    From your review, where you said that you slowed your reading so that you could savor each story about a woman did it for me. I would to read this book.


  15. Ruthie B says:

    The writing sounds absolutely lovely! Count me in please, thanks.


  16. diana mack says:

    i have read your recommendations before and you are right on track!

  17. Anna says:

    If you loved it, then I will, too. Please enter me in your giveaway.


  18. Linda says:

    I love your concept of “finding the one book for every woman I love” each year! I want to read this book, love it and buy it for every woman I love! Thanks for the great review! I’d love to win a copy!

  19. Diana R. says:

    Would love to read this book if it is as good as the Help and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand. I really enjoyed both of these books.

  20. Lynne says:

    After reading your review of this book I am certain I will be finding my own copy but if I am able to win a copy I will definitely give it away to one of my best friends!

  21. Renee says:

    Thank you for the chance to win this!

  22. Rebecca Booth says:

    Your review saying a book that I want to buy for every woman I love…has me hooked to want to read JOY FOR BEGINNERS!

  23. Belinda Mathison says:

    My book club has read The Help and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and loved both! I am relying on your good judgment that Joy for Beginners will be a good pick for us also! We have 14 members and have been meeting for 9 years this month!

  24. Diane Castiglione says:

    Sounds like a great book. I think we all have something in our life that we say we will never do. The title got me pulled in. I would love to read it. Count me in.

  25. Marlene says:

    What an intriguing title. Would love a chance to read it and make a suggestion for our book club.

  26. Rebecca says:

    oooh, I just put this one on my to-read list last week! thanks for the giveaway opportunity.

  27. Wendy says:

    Seems like a “definite” read for my book club!
    Please include me in the drawing. Thank you!

  28. Marilyn says:

    I also liked “The Help” and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand”, so assume I will also like this one since our tastes are similar.
    So…please consider me for this giveaway.

  29. Thanks for the giveaway! I loved The Help and hopefully will love this too! 🙂

  30. Tamara says:

    How can I go wrong with a book that you don’t want to let go of? Please include me in the giveaway.

  31. Annie says:

    Supposedly, you canlt judge a book by it’s cover, but this one looks as delightful as the title suggests! Thank you for adding another book to my ‘must read’ list 🙂

  32. Kay says:

    Reserved it from the library but would love to be a winner

  33. Christy says:

    This sounds like a wonderful read! I can relate to several of the storylines.

  34. Nancy says:

    My first entry.. I would love to read, and then be able to recommend this book to my book group. I suspect our many divergent viewpoints could find some common threads.

  35. This sounds like a wonderful read! I’m sure whoever you gift this book to during the year will be quite happy with you.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour. I featured your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  36. Colleen Turner says:

    This sounds like a wonderful book! I would love a chance to win a copy!

  37. Susan S says:

    I loved The Help too. Can’t wait to see the movie. Now I am seeing Joy for Beginners everywhere – I must read this one too. Thanks for the chance to win it!

  38. Jennifer Downing says:

    If you can compare this book to The Help, then it is a must read! Thank you for hosting the giveaway…fingers crossed!!!

  39. I love the quotes you included in your review!

    Thanks for this giveaway!


  40. Jessy Wylie says:

    This book sounds really good. Thank you for the giveaway.

  41. Pingback: Life in Review: “Joy for Beginners” by Erica Bauermeister + Giveaway! « Life In Review

  42. Pingback: Best I Read in 2011 | BOOK CLUB CLASSICS!

  43. Phyllis Copt says:

    I am looking for a page turner, and this sounds like a good one. Thanks, again, for the recommendation and giveaway. Phyllis

  44. Kristen says:

    It is, Phyllis! So far, everyone I have recommended this novel to has enjoyed it, too! 🙂

  45. Pingback: Best I Read in 2011 | BOOK CLUB CLASSICS!

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