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Book Review: Something in Stone

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Book Review: Something in Stone

By Diane McCurdy

Ironically I was reading Something in Stone which is about a group of women of a certain age who meet at a beach house when I had gathered at a beach house with a group of my women friends. Our revelations, however, were not nearly as dramatic or startling as the ones in the book.

Linda Loveland Reid is a local writer, painter, theater enthusiast and graduate of Sonoma State University. Although born in Hollywood she now resides in what is romantically described in brochures as the “wine country” and she sets her narrative in that fertile environment. At first I was put off by exactly that. Her characters go to our beaches, Healdsburg, Petaluma, Santa Rosa and Sonoma, often making stops at Lonnies, The Topaz Room and the Villa Chanticleer. Initially the mentioning these local landmarks made me uneasy and I realize that this is totally my problem. They may be exotic place marks to someone reading on the East coast but here in the very environs it made the subject matter seem too mundane. When reading a novel I prefer to be swept away into another world even if that world is not particularly benevolent and in Something in Stone I was confronted with too much of my own world, with reality. Eventually , though, the author was able to break down my resistance and I actually looked forward to recognizing what nearby spot she would be taking us next.

Five fifty-ish ladies, who have been buddies since high school, have been summoned together by ringleader, Rennie, to a vacation house at Dillon Beach. The house belongs to the family of a sixth member of their gang now deceased. To begin with, I kept a cast of characters written in the front of the book to make sure I kept them straight as each woman has a very distinct back story. The author creates the dialog amongst these ladies with aplomb, no easy task as we are catapulted from their teen-age years in the 50’s to their present in the late 90’s. Many questions are raised not the least of which is why have they been assembled. But deeper and more mysterious is the hidden query that clouds all their minds: Why did the sixth member of their clique, so many years ago, walk into the ocean on prom night? At this point the plot doesn’t twist, it whirls and writhes.

With only a few plausibility concerns, this is a complex and compelling novel that rises far above the chick-lit genre. It would make a great film.