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Helen of Pasadena: 01/01/14

cover art

Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan is the perfect book to start off the new year. Helen Fairfield needs to reinvent herself after her husband is killed by a Rose Parade float. Sure, these things are huge but they run at a top speed of about three miles per hour. It's an opening scene similar in tone and absurdity as the steam roller scene in A Fish Called Wanda (1988).

Most of the book then is the aftermath of Helen's widowhood. She learns that the home's mortgage is underwater and that her husband while screwing nearly every woman he know, he also screwed over the family finances. Helen needs a job and a smaller home she and her son can afford.

As Helen is thrust out of the Pasadena elite (really, I'd think of them as San Marino elite, but hey!) she is forced now to work for them. Rather than this being a story where a once trophy while ends up having to take a low paying domestic job, Helen ends up working at the Huntington Library.

So while the initial set up was absurd, the rest of the book tones things down. There's enough of actual Pasadena and the San Gabriel Valley for Helen's story to ring true.

Five stars

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