Review of HER BACKYARD by Doreen Lewis (see her website)
Helm Publishing, March 2005
At thirty-four, Audrey Beane is at the top of her game. She heads a department in a top New York advertising company, commands respect in the community, and is living the dream her father had set her off on years before. Sure, some of her employees think she's a witch, and she can't seem to give up smoking, and hasn't had a date in months, but she's on the road to becoming a partner and is making the kind of money she's only dreamed of. But when her father suddenly falls sick, Audrey has to head back home, to Florida. There she faces a simpler life, the one her sister chose, and realizes how much she gave up to pursue those dreams. That sacrifice comes all that much more clear when she runs into ex-lover Roger Hollingsworth--the man who had tried to persuade her to marry him and stay with him in Florida years before.
When her father takes a turn for the worse, Audrey's plans to head back to New York immediately are put on hold. Meanwhile, in her office, politics, illicit love, and greed continue. And Audrey spends time with Roger--falling in love with him all over again. But has anything really changed? Aren't their needs just as divergent as ever?
Audrey can't get Roger out of her mind when she returns to New York--and tries to clean up the mess that her absence created. Still, can she give up everything just to return to her man?
Author Doreen Lewis writes an emotional and heart-felt story of a woman coming of age. The death of her father and the recovery of her long-lost love force her to confront the choices she made years before and question them. I would have liked to see a bit more of Audrey actually painting and exploring alternatives to the advertising world, and would really have liked to see more of Roger being willing to make some sacrifices of his own rather than simply demanding that Audrey give up her life if she wanted to spend time with him (couldn't he have offered to move to New York? It wasn't as if he had major attachments to Florida). Also, I found the multiple arguments between Audrey and Roger to be off-putting.
In HER BACKYARD, Lewis explores questions that everyone must ask as they grow in maturity. Lewis's answers, as expressed through Audrey, ring true in a world where pursuit of stuff often seems to take priority over pursuit of joy.
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