Thursday, September 29, 2011
Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook
I was in our local library a couple of weeks ago, browsing through some of their new book offerings and was drawn to this book by it's very attractive cover and intriguing title. I'm glad I decided to add it to the pile of books I had already chosen that day.
Best Staged Plans is the first Claire Cook novel I've read but it certainly won't be my last. Not only is this book an entertaining story from start to finish; it also has some life lessons for readers to consider personally and long after the last page has been turned.
Sandy Sullivan, the main character in the story is a home stager, living in Boston. In case you aren't familiar with this occupation, it's a person who helps to bring a house/property up to speed and looking it's best, before putting it up for sale. Well, right off the bat, the author had my attention.
Home staging is something I've been doing for years, on a free basis for friends and family. I have a knack for this it seems as in every case the seller made (a lot) more money on the sale of their homes than they or the realtors had initially anticipated. It's something I love to do!
Back to the book...when there's something that I can relate to this closely in a story, it usually follows that the book will definitely pique my interest. Reading about Sandy's experiences helping various clients throughout the book and some staging tips as well, brought back some good memories for me.
But staging homes and quirky clients are just a small part of what makes this such an enjoyable read. Sandy struggles with a number of challenges in her family relationships and is badly in need of a break from the routines of her everyday life. A trip to Atlanta to work with a boyfriend of her best friend, who is getting a small hotel ready for sale ends up only complicating things further. Along the way, she meets and befriends a homeless woman and here's where the story takes yet another interesting turn. One that brought tears to my eyes. And later, smiles. But I won't spoil the story by saying too much!
This truly is a wise, witty and well-written story. Author, Claire Cook's personal story is very interesting and inspiring too. Stop by Claire Cook.com to read about her own journey from being a teacher to becoming a novelist in mid-life. A dream that she had on the back-burner for many years. A re-invention story that has inspired me so much, as I work on my first novel. My first novel I'll actually finish, I should say!
Satisfying, funny, touching and with a message about homelessness that can't be expressed enough.
There is a lot more to this book than just a great cover. Good to the last page!
Overall rating for this book: Excellent. 5 out of 5.