THURSDAY AT EIGHT by Debbie Macomber (see her website)
MIRA, June 2001
Every Thursday morning at eight, four women meet to discuss their lives, share coffee, and carry on the journals that they are all writing. Each woman is in the midst of a personal crisis that she cannot resolve on her own. One is still bitter over a two-year old divorce, another is pregnant at fourty, a third is still trying to deal with the death of her husband six years previously, and the fourth is dealing with becoming an adult and giving up her old dreams.
Author Debbie Macomber (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of novels by Macomber) wheels out the heavy artillery of emotional content, making her protagonists suffer with spousal abuse, cancer, bitter children, and premature childbirth. By dealing with these difficult issues, each character becomes stronger and more complete.
At the beginning of THURSDAYS AT EIGHT, the four women are unsympathetic and almost unlikable. Clare, in particular, is so bitter that she actually gloats that her sons will have nothing to do with their father. Only a writer of Macomber's talent could make the reader care about such self-centered women and make us hope that they will be redeemed. A strong finish saves this novel from being a disappointment to Macomber fans.
Macomber is a little heavy-handed in her characterization. Her characters tend to repeat themselves, beating the reader over the head with their statements and making sure that we don't miss any detail. Despite this, the older three characters felt authentic, as if Macomber actually knew these people. I did not find this to be true with Karen. Too often, she used expressions that simply do not seem to fit the supposed twenty-something generation.
Macomber is a star in the romance genre and, in THURSDAY AT EIGHT, she rolls out the emotional big guns. While I was uncomfortable with portions of the novel, Macomber was still able to push my emotional buttons without making me feel manipulated.
Purchase THURSDAY AT EIGHT from Amazon.com (hardback)