Monday, June 14, 2010

Full Circle by Nancy Gettelman

Reviewed for Review the Book
Publisher:  Nightengale Press

If I were to consider this book as a person, I would have to say it was warm and comfortable, like enjoying a friend's company.  But first, the reader learns that life for the characters hasn't always been that way.

Sara, the main character, has just caught a glimpse while driving home of someone she thinks could be her long-missing and presumed dead husband.  Her daughter on the same day, coming from grocery shopping is sure she has seen her father. Sara has never gone into details with Emma about what happened before his disappearance. The first few chapters are the memories of Sara as she reminisces about the past. Her life in Milwaukee, her childhood, her part in the family brewery, and her failing marriage.

Fast forward: With a rocky and unhappy background set at the beginning of the book, the story moves on as the reader is taken into the workings of the brewery owned by generations of Sara's family, and her life as a middle-aged businesswoman. Her daughter grown, a lawyer, and married, Sara has settled into the daily life of president of the family business. Although this is a city brewery, the camaraderie throughout of the employees and board is much like a small family-run atmosphere, but as often appears in every group, with the traditional prickly thorn. This particular prickly thorn is a family member, and also on the board.

Nancy Gettelman obviously is very knowledgeable about breweries, the descriptions so vivid I could almost hear the bottles rattling! I love books that are entertaining but where I can also learn something new.

But time works its way into the building and equipment rendering them gradually no longer viable, and after the long haul, Sara and her Uncle Vincent have concluded they must sell the brewery they can no longer afford to maintain.  Into Sara's life comes a reason to be happy again and perhaps find new life along with the changes that are about to happen to the brewery.  Changes that are more than satisfactory to all but the thorny dissenter, who opts out by selling his shares and retiring to Northern Wisconsin.

I love the way the reader is privy to the thoughts in Sara's mind, often at odds with what her words are saying. Particularly once she meets Robb Schneider, who has made a very good offer on the brewery, and still wishes to have the family involved. Only now does Sara appear to wake from the nightmare of her unresolved marriage and what has happened to Kyle, her former husband. Like moving into a new dream, she suddenly finds herself lacking confidence in her personal life, shy and afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing or sending the wrong message.

With encouragement from family friends and relatives, including her daughter Emma, she feels a great load has lifted and happiness can be hers. With an unexpected resolution, an announcement from Emma, an answer to the glimpses of Kyle, and new beginnings for Sara, she looks forward to a brighter future as she is finally able to put the past behind her.

The book is well-written with fully-fledged characters, a strong, balanced plot, and a consistent storyline. It flows very well regardless of jumping about 20 years ahead partway through the book; in a way it flows better because of this and the way it was handled. It's so refreshing to read a book of this type with the main character middle-aged, strong yet vulnerable, and with an exciting future ahead of her.  Full Circle gets the story right, well done Nancy Gettelman!

No comments: