Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Book Review: The Mulberry Tree

The Mulberry Tree
By Jude Deveraux
Read by Karen Ziemba
Copyright 2002
5 hours abridged

Far be it for me to knock an author who is widely published and apparently much-loved, but I was not overly impressed with my first Judge Deveraux book. Perhaps it was the abridgement that made it seem like a shallow story with a contrived ending.

Bailey James (formerly Lillian Manville) sets out to make a new life for herself after spending two decades as the fat wife of a billionaire who wanted her to be, well, his fat wife. The story made it clear that every time Lillian went on a diet, husband Jimmy sent her boxes of chocolates. Apparently he wanted to ensure nobody looked at her. Fat people are, after all, invisible to the rest of the world.

But then poor Jimmy died in a plane crash, and Lillian, hiding out from the multitudes of reporters who wanted glimpses of the fat widow, lost lots of weight. Turns out she also lost out on the billions, too - because Jimmy left her only an old farm in Virginia. His billions went to his two siblings.

Or did it?

At any rate, Lillian takes on a new identity and moves to Virginia, to find herself with an old broken down farmhouse with a mulberry tree. Later she learns there is some mystery that has to do with six young men, known as "The Golden Six." Somehow this ties into her husband and his mysterious childhood. Eventually she begins to try to figure out the connection.

Meanwhile, a handsome architect conveniently moves in with her and she and several other women take a forsaken Virginia backwater and put it on the map with a single commercial during a football game.

The ending was about as contrived as one could get, with the heroine doing very little work to resolve the "mystery" surrounding her husband and The Golden Six. Bailey had a little character growth during the book, but not enough to be satisfactory.

I do not, as a rule, read romance novels (though I like gothic suspense) so it is not surprise that I did not find this overly engaging. It was well-written though I think with a little thought the author could have come up with a more satisfactory ending.

3 stars (mostly for the decent writing and some character development).

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