Maureen Foss

Maureen Foss’s off-beat and darkly funny third novel begins when four quirky and mismatched women answer an ad to join a writing group. Unlikely friendships and wild adventures ensue as their lives start to unravel around them.

Bunny, the wife of a calculating, cheating husband, is writing a novel about the best way to carry out spousal disposal and get away with it. Mariah, a closet lesbian, is planning to make a fortune by marketing her romance novels when her home is suddenly invaded by her mother and her mother’s blaspheming parrot. The sentimental poet, Sari, makes her living as a funeral home cosmetician, but when her husband kidnaps their son and runs off for a new life without her, quiet, introverted Sari transforms into a wildcat. As the gardening, recipe and etiquette columnist for the local paper, Jemima blends her somewhat unorthodox recipes with her motherly advice. But she suffers a bad case of writer’s block when her husband Joe, a wheelchair-user, has a stroke and falls face-first into her experimental lima bean casserole.

The women’s lives intertwine; good scotch is consumed, lovers come and go and almost everything around them changes, but writing is the glue that holds their friendships fast.

The three of them arrive as one. Jemima in her old Buick, Sari in her truck and Mariah in her rusty blue beater, chugging up the quarter mile of tree-lined driveway. They pull up under the portico, switch off their engines and gather up their manuscripts. Slinging bags over their shoulders, they open their car doors and meet at the bottom of the stone stairs leading to Bunny deLore’s ornate front doors. She’s there to let them in. Her writing group.

They claim their chairs in Bunny’s library, the same chairs they’ve taken every Tuesday evening for the six months since they answered Bunny’s advertisement in the Grievous Times:

Attention Writers: Evening group forming to support, encourage and gently critique your craft. All genres. 

Bunny had needed a diversion other than her charities and shopping, something akin to a book club to occupy her mind in the long hours spent alone in this big house. Alone, that is, except for the ancient housekeeper, Gerda—but she couldn’t be considered company. Anything but “¦ Gerda has been part and parcel of the deLore family since their Vancouver days when Bunny’s husband, Leland, was a frail, doted-upon child with severe asthma and she had been hired as his nanny. When they moved to the town of Grievous for its clear dry air, they had moved lock, stock and Gerda von Hauffman.

Mariah Flint cracks her pages over her knee. “I’ve done last week’s corrections to Derek of Dunston-Greene, such as they are, but I still disagree with Jemima that my heroine is too perfect. However “¦”

Jemima’s face is unreadable. There’s not even a twitch of an eyebrow. From the start Mariah has vigorously opposed any suggestion for adjustment to her work, although upon later reflection at home, she does make the suggested changes.

“However, your point might be valid.”

This is a first!

“Perhaps a new angle,” Mariah continues. “A heroine with a small flaw. Not a club foot or anything, but maybe a double set of eyelashes or a mole on her neck.”

“I’d hardly call that a flaw,” Jemima contends.

Mariah hands typed pages to each of the group. “I’ll just carry on then, shall I?” she says as if Jemima hasn’t spoken. “Reading pages sixty-seven to seventy-four “¦” and she pokes her heavy black-rimmed glasses up her nose’s oily slope.

Derek dismounted from his lathered stallion and strode to where Willow lay sprawled on the grass, her long skirt hiked over her scraped knees, her slippered foot caught in the spokes of her bicycle.

“Would she be wearing long skirts if she was riding a bicycle?” Jemima wonders aloud. “Or slippers, for that matter?”

Mariah glares from beneath her home-cropped bangs.

Jemima waves her off. “Just asking.”