The morning of her niece’s wedding, Margo Just drinks a double martini and contemplates the many mistakes she’s made in her fifty-odd years of life. Spending three decades in love with a wonderful but unattainable man is pretty high up on her list of missteps, as is a long line of unsuccessful love affairs accompanied by a seemingly endless supply of delicious cocktails.

When the young bride flees—taking with her a family heirloom and leaving behind six hundred bewildered guests—her mother offers Margo fifty grand to retrieve her spoiled brat of a daughter and the invaluable property she stole. So, together with the bride’s jilted and justifiably crabby fiancé, Margo sets out in a borrowed 1955 red MG on a cross-country chase. Along the way, none of what she discovers will be quite what she expected. But it might be exactly what she’s been seeking all along.

From acclaimed humor writer Jane Lotter comes this madcap, laugh-out-loud adventure, The Bette Davis Club. (via Goodreads)

The Bette Davis Club cover by Jane Lotter

I received The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter as an ARC from Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. It was published by Lake Union on December 8, 2015, but it was originally self-published in April of 2013, shortly before the author’s death.

The Bette Davis Club was a ride from beginning to end – a little bit wacky and a whole lot of fun. It takes readers on a ride from Los Angeles all the way to New York City with Tully and Margo.

When I started the novel, I really didn’t like any of the characters, because they seemed ridiculous, but as the story grew, they became more and more realistic. The character development in this novel is amazing. You get to see each character’s growth, with the exception of maybe Georgia, throughout the road trip. Margo was still a little bit ridiculous in the end, but where’s the fun in a normal character?

The main theme of this novel is hidden value – from the foreword written by the author’s daughter, to the car, to Spy Team, to Penn Station. I’d even say that the sentimental value of most of the things mentioned in this book could be called a character, because it’s so vital in changing everyone’s perspectives. Tully, one of the main characters, explained it really well –

“See, the hidden value can go way deeper than sentimental attachment. Sometimes you feel it down to your soul. Like maybe you’re the one person who appreciates a work of art that everybody else hates…
This thing you treasure… this thing nobody else wants, could also be what you’d call organic. It could be alive. Could be, I don’t know, a dog. Or a human being. That’s what falling in love is, isn’t it? Discovering the hidden value in someone.”

I really loved that I could really see the road trip happening. The imagery was stunning to me throughout the novel, especially when you could tell that Lotter was trying to make an impression.

My biggest complaint about this novel was that it felt like the road trip was taking weeks, when really, they’d been in the car for like a day. The timeline was a little wonky to me. I had to go back and see how long they’d been in the car. The first several hours that it took to get them to Palm Springs took longer, reading-wise, than it took them to get from there to Chicago, which was a little weird.

Also, it was a good thing that Margo wasn’t driving, because she drank constantly. I’m amazed she got anything done with as much as she had to drink. I’m proud of her for recognizing she had a problem in the end and getting treatment, but she ingested a lot of gin martini’s throughout this trip.

I’m rating The Bette Davis Club by Jane Lotter as a four star novel, because I really enjoyed it.  If you’re a fan of midlife crisis novels, or road trip novels with a dash of romance, you’ll probably enjoy it as well.

four stars and one empty one meant to signify a four star review

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