Atria, Jun 2004, 13.00, 336 pp.
In western Massachusetts, Gina Stebben's husband dies in an SUV accident and her daughter leaves stating the parent she loved was gone. Not long afterward, she loses her job. Her best friend Sophie White provides support to help Gina make it. When Gina decides to travel to Booley, Ireland, Sophie accompanies her. On their first day in town, Sophie meets Liam Kessem, owner of a messy jewelry store called Finola's after his former girlfriend who left two years ago with a German stud.
The next day Gina realizes she made a mistake and heads home for states after insisting Sophie remain in Ireland. As Sophie takes over the role of Finola at the store and in the town, she falls in love with Liam. He insists he loves his American, but she believes he still desires Finola, a legend in the town of Booley. Once her vacation is over, she plans to go home, wiser, nurturing, but heartbroken as the lesson is “parting is such sweet sorrow”.
BECOMING FINOLA is a strange but exhilarating character study with a lotof romance in the air. Readers will be surprised by the early twist as this is not Gina's story, but instead is a deep look at Sophie competing with a local legend by adopting much of Finola's pizzazz. Though a final crossing seems unnecessary, Gina and Liam on the surface carry this delightful tale, but it is the conceptual image of who was the real Finola that will intrigue the audience.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner