I got such a kick out of this one. Meaney has a play in this one with you also delving into the life of the characters who come to perform in an amateur production. I really enjoyed everyone we read about and would have happily read a second book starring everyone. However, Meaney gives you a general idea of how things are going to go with everyone once the curtains fall.
Six people come out to audition for an amateur play called, "Death by Dying". Think Agatha Christie.
The director of the play, Edward Bull (everyone mentions he looks like Tommy Lee Jones) is throwing himself into directing in order to distract himself over the disintegration of his marriage. He wonders if he can forgive his wife, but finds himself thinking about someone else. I liked Edward. He is a bit of a prig when the book starts off and stays that way through the end. But he grows on you, at least he did on me. He is trying to take care of his uncle and definitely knows what is what with directing.
The other characters are sisters, Ellen and Maria. Ellen is still dealing with the heartache of losing her childhood sweetheart. Maria is dealing with being in a loveless marriage and her son's autism. I didn't really like Ellen. There is a whole side-plot dealing with her and a potential medical issue that didn't make me more interested in her. Maria I felt really bad about. She's caught between a rock and a hard place and wants to leave her marriage, but feels trapped since her young son needs his routines or he will lash out.
Robert is a hairdresser still working alongside his ex-wife Caroline. They share custody of their twin boys, but now Caroline is seeking to make a big change that is going to impact Robert. I don't know. I didn't care that much for Robert. You find out he and Caroline split because he cheated. He seems oblivious about how much he had to hurt her. His two kids are pretty cute though.
Harry is a librarian and dealing with a secret he has kept hidden about himself. He still has hope his mother who is suffering from Alzheimer's can come back to herself. I felt badly for Harry. We get a scene with him trying to take his mother out for her birthday over the objections of his absent siblings. You can feel how much pain and loneliness he is dealing with.
Theo has a son and daughter she adores. Only issue is that her current fiance's daughter that she wishes would go away. Can't lie, didn't like Theo at all for this whole story-line. She was acting obtuse and kind of jerky.
Judith has a lot of regrets. Her ex-husband abandoned her long ago to deal with raising their son alone. He hasn't turned out that great. When he returns from Greece with a girlfriend, her life is tipped upside down.
I enjoyed reading the play/characters dialogue so much. I thought it was such a smart idea to mix that in there with us getting to read along with the rehearsals.
The book flow was great. You go from character to character quite easily. Meaney does a good job of setting up the chapter headings that helps with showing how much time has passed as well.
The ending was really good. Not everyone got a great happy ending, but what does occur made sense to me.