Julia's Chocolates

julia's chocolatesCathy Lamb's Julia's Chocolates because the description of it on the library new orders page seemed interesting. As like a box of chocolates, with untried authors you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes you find something really, really good and sometimes you do not. This one falls somewhere in the middle for me.

Let's start with the cover. It's a pretty good cover for the story as the very first line is "I left my wedding dress hanging somewhere on a tree in North Dakota." (I liked the first line and new I wanted to remember it so I entered put in a "First Lines" thread on the BlogHer Book Club.) See? Good start. You know, if you completely ignore the fact that the dress on the cover looks nothing like what was described in the novel, which normally wouldn't bother me so much really irked me in this case. Why? Hmmm maybe it was because of why her wedding dress looked the way it did, which is part of the reason why it ended up on a tree in North Dakota as Julia ran away on what was supposed to be her wedding day. In a word, Robert.

Robert wasn't just mean. He wasn't just abusive. Robert was downright psychotic. Somehow Julia managed to find a way to leave him and go hide out in Oregon with her Aunt Lydia. She figures she has a little while before Robert finds her and oh, tries to kill her.

There were some parts of this that I really liked. There were great characters. I loved Aunt Lydia. Who can't like a character that hosts evenings like "Getting To Know Your Vagina Psychic Night"? (Oh man are the google searches going to love that...can you image the traffic (and spam) I'd get if I made that the post title...) Stash was a great character. And Caroline.

While there are light moments (see "Getting To Know Your Vagina Psychic Night") there are also many dark moments as Julia reflects on her childhood, her life with Robert, and the circumstances surrounding the two children, Shawn and Carrie Lynn. Some parts will be far too dark and violent for some people to enjoy. I didn't really have a problem with (most) of it. It helped that it was balanced by some pretty funny things.

What did tend to frustrate me was Julia. I know she was scared and abused and untrusting and so many other things but there were times when I just wanted to shake her. I also felt that things were tied up just a bit too neatly in the end. I seem to be developing an aversion to things being wrapped up a little too easily and neatly.

Great first line though. You have to admit that.