Publisher: Bella Books
Act 1, Scene 1. Ashland, Oregon. Enter WREN LANDRY.
Wren has happily fled San Francisco and her nationally-known work as secretive food critic Eno Threlkeld for a few weeks’ vacation to visit her twin brother, Raven. Enter Raven, thrilled to be playing Beatrice in this season’s Much Ado About Nothing.
Enter SOPHIE WARD, former investment banker, now goat farmer and cheese monger, followed by a ruthless celebrity chef with a grudge against Eno, a zealous cupcake competitor, a baker who makes aebleskivers everybody covets, a family of Danish immigrants with a fishy back story, and a dubious seer whose predictions might just hold the key to averting disaster.
In this mixed-up story of mistaken identities, mysterious loves, miscues, merriment and mayhem, love runs amok on the streets of a Shakespearean festival, and not even the goats on the Tallulah Rose Farm know how it all ends.
Join Golden Crown Literary Award winner Robbi McCoy for an unforgettable romp through the comedy of love on the road to happiness and beautiful cheese. No pentameters, iambic or otherwise, were harmed in the writing of this romantic novel.
[Originally posted on Amazon 8/26/12]
Two on the Aisle is a difficult book to review because in some ways it was an entertaining read, and I recall being pleased with McCoy’s writing in her other novel’s I’ve read. It’s just that this one had problems that significantly dulled my enthusiasm.
Part of the problem comes from the publisher’s book description. It made me think that this would be a whimsical farce, full of wacky characters. But most of the book is written in a more typical, straight forward manner, despite all the misunderstandings and mistaken identities. And the characters, with a couple exceptions, are fairly regular people, despite some of their suspiciously Shakespearean backgrounds.
The ending more closely approximates what I expected from the book description, but by that time it didn’t comfortably fit with the rest of the novel. It took me a while to adjust to what the book was really like from what I’d expected it to be like, which at first hindered my ability to get into the story and enjoy it for what it was.
There are things to really appreciate about the book. I think the characterizations were well done, Ashland was portrayed as a vibrant and colorful locale, there were a few times I chuckled out loud, and the plot itself was creative and kept my attention. The copious use of Shakespeare quotations and subplots also added a lot. Plus, it’s hard to go wrong with goats.
One of the main things that bugged me was that the novel frequently read like an unpolished manuscript. There were a lot of superfluous (or awkward) words and phrases, the dialogue was often unnatural and clunky, and McCoy egregiously abused dialogue tags.
There were also some inconsistencies. The big one is that it was stated Wren was only going to be in town another two weeks, which influenced some decisions being made. But later events give the impression more than two weeks have passed, yet Wren is still there with no discussion of why or that she’d changed her plans. A small one near the end that sticks in my mind is someone being described as moonlit, yet it’s raining.
I’m going to include a few brief excerpts here:
“That’s terrible!” Sophie observed, her thoughts turning to her friend Klaus.
“What’re you going to do with this information?” Kyle asked.
Wren picked up her fork. “I don’t know,” she said decisively.
She went in the house and set the box on the kitchen table, wondering if it was possible for a man to fall for two women as different as she was from Dena.
If nothing seems amiss about the above excerpts, then I suspect you’re a reader who will find the book much more readable and enjoyable than I did. If that’s true, then I can with good conscience recommend Two on the Aisle. But if, like me, you’re a picky reader and you see problems with what I’ve quoted, and you decide to read the book anyway, you’ll want to have realistic expectations of what you’re getting.