The Pink Magnolia Club
by Geralyn Dawson, contemporary (2002)
Pocket, $6.99, ISBN 0-7434-4265-2


Geralyn Dawson's first foray into "The Three Women At Crossroads" subgenre is overwrought and as pink as its cover. Mawkish greeting card statements are passed off as Wise Words Of Wisdom From The Walking Breast Cancer Awareness Poster, Grace Hardeman, and the other two women of the Pink Magnolia Club are as trite and stereotypical as they come. I don't think Patricia Gaffney will be breaking into cold sweat anytime soon.

The Walking Poster For Breast Cancer Awareness, Grace (who also happens to the Oldest and Wisest Broad of Sagacity every story of this sort must have), is volunteering at the Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation, where you donate your wedding gown in the name of charity. She meets Holly Weeks, your young, pretty gal who has a great boyfriend but is commitment shy. Her boyfriend proposes, and she loses it. Maggie Prescott is your older wife who has slaved for an ungrateful husband when then dumps her for a younger woman. They three begin bonding over horrifyingly Hallmark carpe diem statements, as Grace, whom you know will end up in hospital for the Traumatic Rallying Around Grand Finale Scene, offers sage advice like living for today, thinking with your heart, and loving the one you love with all your heart. It's all pretty but too sugary for me, and as deep as a Celine Dion love anthem. "Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present," Grace declares, and I cross my arms to form an impromptu crucifix against this evil melodramatic sweetness.

Oh, and yes, there's the obligatory girls' singalong to Country and Western oldies as Expression of Freedom and Strength thing. This scene has been so overused in countless Women's Strength movies and Ya-ya clones that someone ought to have told Ms Dawson to just retire these overdone plot devices.

Even if this story is familiar, the very purple and overwrought lines like the "Today is a gift" statement above are enough to make me fear for my life. Geralyn Dawson doesn't want to tell a story, she wants Women Of The World to Wake Up and Live Life For Today Now. As in NOW. N-O-W. Because today is a gift, that's why it's called the present. Coming up next: The Pink Magnolia Greeting Tampons - listen as your tampons evoke wisdoms and homilies of old Ya-Ya (thanks to a tiny mechanical voice box fitted inside). As you get in touch with your Inner You, you'll never forget how to spell carpe diem again!

Rating: 49


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