Title: Lola’s Secret
Author: Monica McInerney
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher for TLC Book Tours
First line: Even after more than sixty years of living in Australia, eighty-four-year-old Lola Quinlan couldn’t get used to a hot Christmas.
Goodreads blurb: Nestled in a picturesque corner of southern Australia, the Valley View Motel has been run by the Quinlans for years—and nobody adores the place more than Lola, the family’s lovable and mischievous Irish-born matriarch. So when she insists that her relatives spend their Christmas elsewhere, the close-knit bunch can’t help but be a bit curious. Lola has always had a knack for clever schemes; after all, she once slyly reunited her three feuding granddaughters, whom she nicknamed the Alphabet Sisters. And with the holiday season fast approaching, Lola decides it’s time to stir up some extra excitement.
Plotting in secret and online, Lola thinks it would be fun to invite a select group of strangers to stay at the motel for Christmas. Will these guests become friends, ignite sparks, fall in love? As she counts down the days until their arrival, Lola’s own family dramas threaten to upend her best-laid plans. Yet amid moments of humor, heartache, and unexpected twists of fate, Lola finds that she’s the one who’s in for the biggest surprise of all.
I haven’t read any of Monica McInerney’s books before, but I have heard that she is often compared to Maeve Binchy, and I can see why. Like Binchy, she takes a cast of disparate characters and throws them together, weaving in and out of each of their stories. Lola’s Secret is a cozy read, and was absolutely perfect going into the holiday season.
When I am 84, I want to be like Lola. She is spunky and spry, going through life like a whirlwind. Her granddaughters love her and seek her advice, she has a part-time job she enjoys very much, and friends she loves. She’s past the age of caring (much) what people think about her, and her time is pretty much her own. And she has her secret – an idea to spice up her Christmas holiday while her family is all away.
Lola’s story is entwined with the stories of the people who are planning to spend Christmas at the hotel. I enjoyed these stories as much as the main story, and loved the way things were wrapped up for each and every one of them. This book has an especially Christmassy feel, and would make perfect holiday reading. And because I loved Lola so much, I will definitely be looking for the prequel, The Alphabet Sisters.