For me, this book is the epitome of average. It's got a cute story, is populated with colorful characters, yet somehow fails to rise. I didn't hate it, but there were plenty of places where Kelman slid past things that should have had more dramatic heft. Case in point: A character chains herself to a toilet in a publishing office and the others forget and leave her there. By the time they remember and go back, police and firemen are on the scene. But all we get is, "After a stern talking to by the police officer . . ." Here's a moment that should totally be shown not told.
There is a lot crammed into this book; it almost tries to do too much work. The story—more like stories, plural—is told from the point of view of Janet, librarian of Southlea Bay, which is a tiny island in the Pacific Northwest. She gets roped into a road trip with a bunch of would-be writers who actually seek to be rejected and the adventures roll on from there. Car problems, landslides, bad weather . . . It all gets heaped on.
Truth is, I may not be the target audience for this book. As a writer myself, I thought this might be more about a group of writers attempting to get published. Instead it's possibly more a book for my mother, who might identify with Janet's problematic relationship with her adult daughter (a strong-willed only child like me). All the women in the group are seemingly a generation older than me, and while I can enjoy books that feature such characters, I definitely did not get the sense of connection that one wants between a reader and the characters.
Also, there are almost too many characters, and though each is fun in her own right, overall some streamlining might've lightened the weight of all this story. Because there's a lot of it. This book is densely packed, but maybe not in the best ways.
On the plus side, Janet has a definite voice. She isn't bland. That's what kept me from putting the book down entirely.
Would I read another in this series? I honestly don't know. I'd have to be in a very particular mood, I think. But I will recommend this book to my mom.