Audrey Matthews, 37, teaches an evening class for adults in “life drawing” – i.e., drawing the human body with the help of a live, nude model. Although Carrickbawn in Ireland is a small town, the students enrolled don’t appear to know one another and haven’t signed up with the intention of meeting anyone else. But by the last session, much has changed for the members of the group – even for Audrey, who, amusingly, is oblivious to the catalyzing effects of the class.
Discussion: This is such a lovely little story. At first, from the title and publisher’s plot summary, I feared it would just be a variation on the cooking school novels, in which disparate people come together for a class and then end up in various happy combinations as a result. But this book subverts that trope enough to add interest and gratification for jaded readers. Those taking the class already live lives which are quite intertwined, but they just aren’t aware of it. As the classes progress, they gradually discover the connections that were there all along. And not all of these linkages are positive, nor are all the endings happy. Some of the stories aren’t even wrapped up. Nevertheless, their resolutions seem right.
Evaluation: I liked all of the characters – even the ones who seemed unsympathetic at first. The unpleasant characters are working through pain, and we come to feel for them and their situations. The characters who are attractive are still realistic enough not to seem too saccharine. This is not just a simple beach read, although it goes quickly and enjoyably. I found it to be an entertaining way to pass the time.
Published by Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, 2012