The Hundred Gifts
by Jennifer Scott
Trade Paperback: 384 pages
Released: Oct.27, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
With the holidays around the corner, empty-nester Bren Epperson realizes that for the first time in decades, she has no large family to cook for, no celebration to create. Her daughter has moved to Thailand, her son has ditched college to backpack around the world, and her husband has disappeared into the basement to indulge his midlife crisis.
So Bren starts teaching a holiday cooking class. But Virginia Mash, the old lady living upstairs, bursts in complaining of the noise, the smells, and the mess. Rather than retaliate, Bren suggests that the class shower Virginia with kindness—that they give her one hundred gifts. So they embark on the plan to lift a heart.
The Hundred Gifts is women's fiction. From the book description, I expected a feel-good story of a generous, loving Empty Nester finding new activities and friends to fill her life. Instead, Bren was very insecure, resentful, and judgmental. Even the gift idea was suggested by someone else, and Bren realized that she was doing it for selfish reasons. While the cooking class scenes were fun, the cooking-class-group scenes only took up about fifty pages.
The characters came across as realistic, complex people, and the story felt like it could really have happened. So the writing was good. If there had been more scenes of the cooking class and seeing friendships bloom instead of being told about it, I probably would have enjoyed the book. Instead, we see Bren being torn down by her family, fighting with her husband, and being seduced by her husband's best friend. Everything she tried failed. Even with Virgina, it's all heartbreak. Depressing reading, though things do turn around by the end.
There was a fair amount of bad language of all types. There were no graphic sex scenes. Overall, I'd recommend this book to women going through midlife crisis or empty nest troubles and who want to read about someone struggling with it, too.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.