File Claire Cook and her novels under both the “feel-good” and “the pursuit of following dreams” categories. While most people know our featured author from her novel turned movie, Must Love Dogs, I have been a fan since those long-gone sleep deprived days immediately following the birth of my twins, when my mom would pass along her paperback novels to me. In the mix of books she had sorted as “yes”, as in I wouldn’t quit reading it after the first chapter, I discovered a witty and clever read entitled Life’s a Beach by, you guessed it, Claire Cook. Not only did I become a fan, but I became inspired to do some writing of my own.
Wallflower in Bloom tells the story of a true wallflower – Deirdre Griffin’s eyes are even wallflower brown! Standing the shadows of her superstar guru brother, Tag (who I imagined as looking a lot like Tony Robbins), Deirdre doesn’t have much of a life beyond her siblings and parents. After an embarrassing incident involving frumpy, old undergarments paired with a new love interest; and after nearly running down her ex-boyfriend in a golf cart, Deirdre drowns her sorrows in a boozy milkshake (chocolate soymilk plus Ben Jerry’s Triple Carmel Chunk plus Russian Vodka … mmm … where was I? Oh, yeah…) and becomes a contestant on Dancing with the Stars. What? Well, Deirdre is herself a guru - of public relations and promotion that is. She puts her talents to good use by convincing her brother’s fans to support her candidacy to be on the hit show. (While I was reading this book, I didn’t know whether I ought to be taking notes or tracking down a real life Deirdre Griffin to help me!) Of course, Deirdre is a fish out of water amongst the true stars of Hollywood. But, rest assured, this wallflower does bloom for an ending that seems to come all too quick but is charming and heart-warming nonetheless.
Plus, I love learning something new, especially when it has to do with word-play. Each chapter begins with a chiasmus. (Bonus points if you know what a chiasmus is or how to pronounce it!) Basically, (and this is my attempt to define it), it’s a super catchy way to make a quotable phrase by stating something forward and backward in such a manner it makes you think about it. Here’s a famous example: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” And here’s a funny one from the book: “When in doubt, eat and when in eat, doubt.”
Hear the first chapter of Wallflower in Bloom read by Claire Cook.
(And the reason why Claire Cook is my hero of the literary world!)
Claire Cook wrote her first novel in her minivan when she was forty-five. At fifty, she walked the red carpet at the