Simon and Schuster. Jan 2004, 24.00, 384 pp.
Five years ago, Beryl thought she and Earl were forever. However, now in Anchorage, Beryl knows he is going to leave her soon. Somehow the magic vanished.
In California, Phoebe raises her five year old daughter by herself, makes a living from the nursery she inherited from Aunt Sadie, and fails to move past the death of her beloved. Newcomer Andrew makes her very nervous because he wants her.
Nance and James still seem in love and have everything at least in the eyes of an outsider. However, both know what is missing from their perfect lives. They want a child, but all they have is miscarriages and a doctor warning for no more pregnancies.
In Arizona, a dying David asks his friend Ness to help him see the ocean one last time. She moves heaven and earth to take him to California though her heart breaks to see how ill he is.
They are returning to the farm where each found solace in the land and in Aunt Sadie's words of wisdom from her journal.
As with the previous Bad Girl Creek novels (see BAD GIRL CREEK and ALONG CAME MARY), GOODBYE, EARL uses alternating chapters to tell the tales of the four women and other people in their lives. The story line provides a slice of Americana as each of the protagonists deal with tragedy but is helped by the love of friends. Series fans will appreciate the return especially Aunt Sadie's sage advice that in this violent world remains simple but worthy. Jo-Ann Mapson provides a strong dose of mental hugging warmth.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner