Title: The Lion Is In
Author: Delia Ephron
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
First line: Three hours south of Baltimore.
Goodreads blurb: Tracee is a runaway bride and kleptomaniac. Lana’s an audacious beauty, a recovering alcoholic. Rita is a holy-roller minister’s wife, desperate to escape her marriage. One warm summer’s night, these three women go on the lam together. Their car breaks down on a rural highway in North Carolina and they’re forced to seek shelter in a seemingly abandoned nightclub. Which is where they meet Marcel. And soon everything changes. Marcel, you see, is a lion.
Although Delia Ephron’s You’ve Got Mail is one of my favorite films, I was not aware that she also wrote fiction. The Lion Is In showed up in my mailbox, and her name, along with the premise, prompted me to move it to the top of my to-read pile. I loved the idea of three women running away from their lives – and becoming involved with a lion.
I loved the women in this book! Ephron makes them very easy to love, very easy to root for. Lana and Tracee have been best friends since they were girls, and yet their relationship involves some dysfunction as well as the typical support and love you would expect. Lana has stopped drinking, but she is seething with anger. Tracee is a compulsive thief, and seems unable to control the impulse. They completely accept each other with all of their faults, and yet Lana’s need for Tracee is so strong that it is difficult for her to see what’s best for her friend.
Rita, the pastor’s wife, is the most fascinating character – and the one who goes through the most profound change during the course of the novel. She immediately connects with Marcel, and her friendship with him allows her to become the woman she was meant to be, the woman her controlling husband had kept subservient and hidden.
There are enough funny scenes in this book to give it the feel of a “light” read, but don’t let that deceive you – Ephron deals with issues like addiction, emotional abuse, and codependency. Her characters each undergo a transformation – one in which, realistically, they start the healing journey, with a long road left ahead of them. If you are looking for a witty, emotional, and hopeful work of women’s fiction, you should pick up The Lion Is In.