This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, January 04, 2013

The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

I found this book in my "Recommendations" section of It's not as if I don't have enough in my queue that I go and look for others to read, instead of fulfilling my list of "to reads". I feel like I'm "cheating" on my list of books that I have listed "to read" but this one seemed to be calling my name and since I had trouble finding something that seemed interesting enough, as well as stirring my mood, I decided to give this one a try.

I knew I was on to a good start when the "Acknowledgments" section started with names, and places, I recognized: someone from Pinehurst, North Carolina, Raleigh, Diane Chamberlain (a FB friend and 'local' author), Margaret Mahon (another local author), Sarah Shaber (another FB friend and local author), Alex Sokoloff (another FB friend and favorite semi-local author), Southern Pines. With a little more research, it appears that Andrews is a Georgia native, with a brief stint in Raleigh, hence her (probable) connection to these NC ties. Nonetheless, I was thrilled to see these familiar names and most importantly, the southern ties.

The book itself is absolutely wonderful. I could not put it down. This is a book I would recommend to anyone who loves to read just a fun, enjoyable book. I definitely have found a new author of delight in Mary Kay Andrews (who I keep typing a Mark). This was a book I took everywhere and I *am* on vacation. I had an eye appointment and sat in the chair where all the doo-gadgets were and waited patiently, reading, lost in time, as I immersed myself into Birdsong, the home in which Dempsey Killebrew, the protagonist of this 419 page novel 'lived'.

This was the perfect novel: the chapters were just the right amount of 'size'. Not too long and not to short.

The story had the right amount of depth: not too sappy, a bit of intrigue and some romance without being typical of the: woman-meets-boorish-man-hates-him-but-loves-him. It definitely is *not* that, which I *so* appreciated.

It's not too short and, surprisingly, at again, 419 pages (in hardback), not too long. It is a well-rounded story about a lawyer-turned-lobbyist (the aforementioned Dempsey Killebrew) who's life turns upside down when her firm ends up in a scandalous affair of bribery and she loses her job, and her reputation. Her father gives her an offer she can't refuse: update a recently inherited home in Guthrie, Georgia - Birdsong - 'flip it' - then resell it and split the profits.

***Spoiler Alerts***
Dempsey has no money. Her dad, who was really not an affectionate father to her, happens to be a great father to his 4 year old twin sons with his younger wife (four years older than Dempsey) Pilar, gives her an $80,000 budget to redo the dilapidated house. That's not a whole lot when the house is virtually in shambles.

But in Guthrie, the southern charm is there and there are a whole lot of people around willing to help...and Dempsey's doing a lot of work herself. So, a little back from reality here because Dempsey, who has never done any work in her life, except make good grades, suddenly takes lessons from Bobby Livesey, the best contractor in town, and she can lay tile, use a drum sander, a heat gun, paint clean lines, etc. like nobody's business.  That's OK. Because it's just a book and the story is good, the people in the book are good, and a little bit of non-reality is nice.

The first story is how she's going to fix this house so she can get the hell out of this po'dunk town, and the old lady, Ella Kate, who HATES her.

The second story is dealing with the charges that the FBI has against her for the scandal back in Washington D.C. as a lobbyist. It was her corporate credit card that hired a prostitute to woo the congressman to vote for bills for her firm worked with. But because she was just a gung-ho lobbyist, working hard to impress her boss, she had no idea she was blindsided by what was really going on. Now, she's working with the FBI to set up her boss to clear her name and get them off her back.

Plus, there's Tee Berryhill, the man who has been wooing her. But she's been making it clear that she's here to fix up Birdsong and then she's out of here. Or is she? Well, it's obvious where this will go but reading it is oh so nice.

Definitely a wonderful read and a great start to my first of 35 books as my goal for 2013.

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