When Noreen takes a buyout from her high-powered job at an athletic shoe company then gets dumped by the very boyfriend who persuaded her to do it, she does what any smart woman would do Ė she walks it off. Literally. After all, she has to do something with all those athletic shoes she picked up with her employee discount.
Anyone who has suddenly found the structure of her (or his) life yanked away will understand why Noreen is lost and baffled by instant freedom. The buyout gave her a nice separation package so she doesnít have to jump back into the job pool, and her former employer also provides sessions with Fresh Horizons, a group intended to help Noreen make the transition from her former position to a brand new life. But an extra 40 to 60 hours a week isnít easily filled, and too much thinking-space isnít getting Noreen where she wants to go.
With time on her hands and Walk On Bys on her feet, Noreen discovers that traveling in her own subdivision is practically a safari. Right next door thereís Tess, a woman who flagrantly violates the neighborhood associationís rules against hanging laundry while her teenage daughter fights parental authority. Renegade chickens terrorize the unwary, and even Noreenís visiting mother flaunts her sexy underwear.
It may be a coincidence that Noreen, Tess and lavender-lady Rosie all wear the same size shoe, but itís entirely predictable that the three of them would bond over long walks and eccentric plans to make a statement of independence. Within days of meeting each other, the three form not only the Wildwater Walking Club but launch an ambitious plan to make their steps count for something more than leisure.
Claire Cook is already a bestselling author, with a loyal following. The Wildwater Walking Club will surely delight fans of her earlier works Lifeís a Beach and Must Love Dogs. Cook does have a knack for writing lighthearted prose, but donít mistake this breezy read for fluff. What we have here is a work of tremendous subtlety and power. Cook understands her readers and gives them a likeable and admirable protagonist in Noreen, a woman who has accomplished much yet still feels vulnerable and confused.
More readers will probably relate to Tess, the mother of that rebellious teenage girl, or to Rosie, who has shaken up her life in order to keep her aging father comfortable. In fact, these three women are coping with similar stressors and insecurities; each, in her own way, is also fighting back against a world that draws boundaries too tight for comfort. When the Wildwater Walking Club bands together, each member finds her own strength and discovers that sometimes all one needs to be successful is a good support system.
I havenít read Claire Cookís earlier work, but thatís about to change. The Wildwater Walking Club is an impressive blend of sassy characters, sumptuous setting and intriguing plot. It all adds up to complete reading satisfaction. For my money, The Wildwater Walking Club is THE read for the summer.