Enchanting Lily

Anjali Banerjee
August 2012, Women's Fiction
Berkley, $15.00, 320 pages, Amazon ASIN 0425245306

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Subtle

We've all complained before about the books with the evil ex. It seems that to be a widow, divorcee, or ditched girlfriend of one's previous significant other must be the worst sort of person imaginable. This novel is a refreshing take on what happens when you find The One - and then lose him. Are you allowed to find a new The One? Is such a thing even possible?

Lily Bryne feels invisible. A widow before forty, she finds herself literally drifting through life, until her aimless wanderings lead her to Shelter Island, Washington. There she find the perfect cottage for a vintage clothing shop. Her first few days of business are not a rousing success. A cat darts into the shop, damaging a valuable - and highly sentimental - wedding dress. Her first customer has to be cut out of the garment she tries on. Bish, a young teen, views her lovely things as old and assures her the shop smells like a museum.

Lily's life begins to take a turn for the better as she accepts Kitty, the destructive stray, into her heart and home. When she takes Kitty to the vet to determine her health status and needs, she meets a fascinating - if grumpy - man in veterinarian Ben Carson. When she starts to adjust her beautiful one of a kind pieces so that they can fit the customers walking through her door, the clothes start finding the homes they need. As she speaks to her customers, she sees people all around her picking up pieces of the past and forging a new future with them. Slowly, she accepts that this is something she too can do.

The wonderful thing about this novel is that it deals with grief and loss in terms of healing. Both Ben and Lily have lost significant others. Lily's husband died unexpectedly. His death left a raw, painful wound. Lily has let that wound fester in many ways. As she starts to live once more she realizes all the ways she is holding on to him that are unhealthy. She also realizes that needs to change - not for Ben's sake but for her own. As she starts to make those changes, she sees that she can open herself up to new hurts. She also realizes that pain and the overcoming of it are part of life.

Ben's wife left for greener pastures but she is still very much alive - and kicking. Ben has every reason to be angry and bitter but he realizes that only he can determine if the wants to stay there or start living. When he begins dating Lily he sees the hope of having someone kind and good in his life. The question for him is, will he be able to make the hard adjustments it will take to make that possible?

While the book deals with heavy issues it is amazingly light-hearted and positive. A large part of that is that Ben and Lily are an absolute pleasure to be around. They may be grieving but they are also living, growing, and embracing the possibilities life is making available to them. I loved that.

An even larger part of the positive vibe of the novel is due to Kitty. Her view point offers universal wisdom and a deeper and more profound understanding of human nature than is normally available to mere people. She weaves her magic within the shop, touching and enhancing many lives. The life most touched, of course, is that of Lily. Kitty felt drawn to Lily and senses a mission to save her. and she does, she really does.

This book offers charm, romance, and a sweet and hopeful look at second chances. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend to anyone looking for a break from the standard romance.

-- Maggie Boyd

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