Welcome to the TLC Book Tour for Born Under a Lucky Moon
Jeannie Thompson has managed to keep her boyfriend of more than two years, Aidan, from meeting her wacky family. And she wants to keep it that way. After all, her first marriage to her hometown sweetheart, Walker, broke up, in part, because Walker never did like her family and did not want to spend time with them. Now that Aidan has proposed — and Jeannie hears her biological clock ticking as she nears her fortieth birthday — Jeannie hesitates to accept because that would mean allowing Aidan to meet her parents, Rose and Harold, as well as her brother, Evan, and her sisters, Sammie, Elizabeth, and Lucy. And to be fair, the Thompsons have a track record of being involved in decidedly unusual occurrences.
Aidan is a successful Hollywood producer, while Jeannie is an executive vice president in the marketing department of Oxford Pictures. Eighty to one hundred-hour workweeks are not unusual for Jeannie as she appeases the egos of celebrities, directors, et al. in her efforts to launch successful ad campaigns for upcoming movie releases. Thus far, Jeannie has been unwilling or unable to set boundaries, taking calls and answering emails virtually around the clock.
Jeannie decides to explain her family to Aidan by relating one story about events that took place twenty years earlier, in 1986. “It starts with a long-planned wedding on a Saturday followed by a surprise wedding on Sunday. It ends with a murder and a sex scandal.” It took place in North Muskegon, Michigan, a place where all roads lead to water and Jeannie “used to think they were all dead ends.”
Add first-time novelist Dana Precious to the short, but impressive, list of female authors currently writing intelligent and compelling fiction specifically geared toward female readers. Born Under a Lucky Moon is a charming debut that deserves to be a best-seller.
Be prepared to keep reading once you start because, as the story alternates between 2006 and 1986, Jeannie relates a series of events that will have you laughing one moment and crying the next. You will find yourself falling in love with her various family members, especially her particularly nutty and a bit eccentric mother, Rose, the matriarch who loves all of her children unconditionally, but sometimes expresses that love in embarrassing ways. And you will consider a vacation in Michigan so that you can find the little town where the Thompson family lives on the edge of the lake and knows everyone for miles around. Of course, all of those folks know the Thompson family, too, including Father Whippet, a rather unfortunately-named Episcopalian priest with strange proclivities that Jeannie inadvertently discovers. And, of course, there’s Walker, Jeannie’s boyfriend and future first husband, who happily misses all Thompson family events in father of fishing all night long with his father.
Precious knows her subject matter. She lives in Los Angeles where she works in entertainment advertising and has publicized movies including Charlie’s Angels and Spider Man. She grew up in North Muskegon, the book’s setting. Like her fictional counterpart, Jeannie, Precious is the daughter of a county administrator. And like her fictional characters, Precious lived through many of the events depicted in the story. Apparently, her family was much like the Thompsons: “We could have the best intentions in my family, but something would always go wrong.”
And to say that things go wrong for the Thompsons is an understatement. The story begins with only son Evan’s upcoming wedding to Anna, for which the family is gathering together. However, Elizabeth spied a marriage certificate in an underwear drawer when she visited sister Lucy. When she reveals to Rose that Lucy has apparently eloped without telling the family, Rose decides there must be two weddings — Evan’s on Saturday, and Lucy’s on Sunday. Of course, Lucy has no idea what Rose is planning, so Rose and the other girls make all the arrangements, from getting last-minute invitations printed and distributing them in person to meeting with the caterer to select the food to telling Father Whippet that Chuck, Lucy’s husband, about whom they known absolutely nothing — not even his last name — is an Episcopalian so that the couple can dispense with the usual prenuptial counseling sessions. But it is supposed to be Anna’s wedding weekend, so how will she feel when she finds out that she must share the spotlight with her new sister-in-law? And how will Lucy react when she arrives, with unsuspecting husband Chuck in tow, and learns that her hometown wedding has been planned for her?
There is nothing mean-spirited or spiteful about this tale of small town American life. On the contrary, each character, no matter how outrageous his/her behavior, is portrayed with soft-edged compassion. Indeed, Born Under a Lucky Moon reads like the homage to the author’s home town Precious intended it to be. She says, “If I could, I’d move back there in a heartbeat. I love it there. It was idyllic, growing up there.”
By alternating between the two time periods, Precious cleverly reveals the drama unfolding in Jeannie’s present day life as Katsu, a younger, eager studio executive, appears to have been promoted too quickly and is anxious to inject himself into projects assigned to her. Aidan has a movie premiere scheduled the same evening as Elizabeth’s daughter’s ballet, which Jeannie promised she would not miss, so she must figure out a way to appear at both events. The result? Outrageous, funny, yet touching. And there is the matter of Lucy’s upcoming visit to Los Angeles which Jeannie believes coincides with Aiden’s business trip, so she should be able to sidestep introducing them. Yet again.
The larger question is why Jeannie is ashamed of her big, boisterous, but loving family? What is she afraid will happen if she introduces Aidan to all of them? Did her marriage to Walker really disintegrate and ultimately fail because of her family’s tendency toward drama and public humiliation, or were there other factors at work? And is Jeannie really going to let the love of her life — her chance for real happiness and the family of her own that she has always wanted — slip away from her because her parents and siblings are a bit frenetic?
The story zips along, racing to a conclusion that readers may not see coming (I didn’t), but that is sweet, satisfying, and, ultimately, perfect. Jeannie ultimately realizes that the road to her childhood home leads not to a dead end, but to water. And that her story “doesn’t reside in the black and white or right and wrong. It resides in the gray area called love.”
Why the title? Because Jeannie, the youngest of the five Thompson children, was born on a night when a full moon guided her parents to the hospital after the headlights on their vehicle ceased functioning. In her parents’ eyes, that moon helped bring her into their lives and they consider her to be a precious gift.
Precious is indeed a gift to women readers who enjoy an engrossing story about a woman looking for love . . . who finally realizes it was right in front of her all along. I look forward to reading more from this talented new novelist!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one copy of Born Under a Lucky Moon free of charge from the author in conjunction with the TLC Book Tours review and virtual book tour program. I was not required to write a positive review in exchange for receipt of the book; rather, the opinions expressed in this review are my own. This disclosure complies with 16 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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