A lovably flawed neurotic in the tradition of Bridget Jones, Sophie Quinn moves from DC to Portland, Maine, with her “safe” husband, Paul. Soon after they arrive, she must confront her landlord about the heat as well as her fear of driving and the fact that Paul might not be so safe after all.
While Sophie works from home as a graphic designer, Paul spends long hours at the office with his perky colleague Natalie. Left to fend for herself in the wilds of Portland, Sophie joins a walking group, which becomes the focal point of her life. As the weather cools, so does her marriage. But Ned, a friend from the walking group, and her former lover Rory—“the one who got away”—make sure Sophie isn’t alone for long.
The dialogue is witty and believable, and Sophie’s inner discourse is downright hilarious. She calls her mother-in-law’s hair “a helped-along wheaten shade from a special color line provided exclusively to hairdressers of WASP matrons over fifty in the conservative shopping enclaves of Potomac Village, Maryland.”
Her relationships with her sister, Delia, and best friend, Marta—conducted entirely by phone—are characterized by a frankness and camaraderie that are both authentic and enviable.
Sophie even manages to make light of her marital problems, preventing the book from becoming depressing: Paul, she says, “wouldn’t necessarily have noticed if I were trolling the Atlantic in a fishing boat with an all-male crew of recently released penitentiary inmates. He was too preoccupied.”
Bartolomeo—a Washington native living in the Boston area and the author of two other romantic comedies including Cupid and Diana—has a knack for details, such as Sophie’s vivid flashbacks to her old Woodley Park apartment, her first dates with Paul at the Botanic Garden and the National Gallery, and Marta’s office on the Georgetown waterfront.
At times, though, the writing is clumsy and repetitive, and the preponderance of description begins to slow down the plot. The story could have been told in significantly fewer pages with a better result. But if you’re trapped inside on a snowy day this winter, it could be just the thing to lift your spirits.