Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: "The Lion Is In"

"The Lion Is In" by Delia Ephron
First published in 2012
My rating: 4 out of 5
(image source)

I have a confession to make: I all too frequently judge books by their covers. And how could I not be grabbed by the flashy artwork of "The Lion Is In," the best part of which is the lion chilling out in the back seat of the Mustang? I'm a sucker for animals. And bright colors. And Mustangs.

"The Lion Is In" features three women all -- literally -- running from their problems; Lana is a recovering alcoholic and college dropout, Tracee is a kleptomaniac who's clad in a wedding dress and veil when we meet her, and Rita is escaping her emotionally abusive husband and lackluster life as a preacher's wife. Best friends Lana and Tracee, making their getaway in Lana's Mustang, pick up hitchhiker Rita on the side of the highway.

Somewhere in North Carolina, Tracee dozes at the wheel and the Mustang veers off the highway, careening into a tree. It turns out to be a fortuitous event, because they happen to have crashed by The Lion, a ramshackle bar with a former circus lion, Marcel, for a mascot. The women barely have enough money for sandwiches, let alone car repairs, and they wind up taking temporary part-time jobs at The Lion. During their time there, Marcel the lion changes all their lives. Because of Marcel, the circus lion caged up in a roadside bar, the women end up confronting their problems and making progress toward inner peace and true happiness. Marcel serves as a kind of unconventional psychiatrist, hence the title.

I picked this book almost solely because I liked the picture on the front, and I nearly gave up on it because I had trouble getting into it. The cover grabbed me but the sparse, simple, adjective-lacking writing didn't. But the other day I was checking books out for a patron at the library where I work and we began comparing notes on our current reads. It turned out that she had recently finished "The Lion Is In" and had the same initial issues with the prose, but she urged me to stick with it for the story. And sure enough, I really did enjoy the story; the characters were interesting, the plot was different, and the ending was happy.

Like her sister Nora, Delia Ephron's other job is a screenwriter. Perhaps that's where the cut-and-dried, bare-bones writing comes from. However much that made reading the novel rough at times, I think "The Lion Is In" would translate into a fantastic movie.

Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds interesting, but I will wait for the movie as a book has to grab me from the start.


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