Ep.8: Big Summer, Me Before You, Virgin River, Bridget Jones’ Diary

Our final episode of the season!  We’ll be off for three weeks and then be back January 10 for Season 2.

The gang’s all here for escapist novels! It’s unanimously agreed that we all love what is commonly referred to as “women’s fiction” and that it’s long past the time when anyone should be embarrassed by that or look down upon it.

Aileen brought Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer to our discussion. A loyal fan of Weiner’s, Aileen will read anything she writes and is never disappointed. While her work may be commonly regarded as fluff because of the usual subject matter (women and their relationships with each other), there’s some deep character building and some meaty prose in Weiner’s work that we all agree is anything but empty filler. We also go off on a long tangent about social media right about here, which makes sense because tangents are Aileen’s specialty.

Lauren went full romance with Robyn Carr’s Virgin River. Originally sucked in by the TV series, Lauren was made a full convert by Therese Plummer’s impeccable audio rendition. Now addicted to Plummer’s voice, Lauren will listen to any books she narrates. Alisa also gives us a saucy reading of one of Carr’s love scenes and things get quite steamy!

Alisa brought back a group favorite with Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’ Diary. This book is polarizing now due to Bridget’s obsessive observation of her weight, alcohol consumption, and cigarette smoking, but the gang decides that’s just ‘ole Bridge being authentic about what it was like to be a woman in the late 1990’s. Social pressure to be thin and perfect were (and arguably still are) so pervasive that women are hardly allowed to think about anything else.

And Josie emptied a box of tissues reading Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You. This book may masquerade as a romance, but it’s really about self-determination and the right to die. While there is no happy ending to this story, and no hard line drawn in the sand about whether the right to die is right or wrong, Josie heartily insists that this book is uplifting, life-affirming, and a joy to read.

The following transcript was translated by an AI program so unfortunately, we can’t vouch for its accuracy.

Aileen: [00:00:00] His hands were fast and greedy under her blouse.

Lauren: telling you.

Alisa: I know,

Aileen: What are greedy hands?

Alisa: uh,

Aileen: Josie’s got the hand motions. Oh, I get it now.

Alisa: yeah, we, we need the visuals to go with the podcast, greedy hands.

Aileen: Well look at the hands on him. Those are greedy. Look at hands.

Josie: Hello and welcome to fiction between friends, a podcast, dedicated to books and book lovers like us. I’m Josephine Angelini

Lauren: I’m Lauren Sanchez.

Alisa: I’m Alisa Hillfinger,

Aileen: and Aileen Calderon,

Josie: we’re four childhood friends from the suburbs of Massachusetts.

Lauren: I’ve always loved to read almost as much as we love to talk to each other.

Alisa: We started this podcast as a way to celebrate how a really good book can come into your life and change it.

Aileen: So if you’re looking for fun and engaging conversations about books, stick around.

Josie: This is fiction between friends. And we’re glad you’ve joined us.

Welcome back. This is episode eight, season one. I’m Josefine Angelini. And joining me are my dear friends. Aileen Calderon[00:01:00] Lauren Sanchez

Lauren: Hello.

Josie: and Alisa Hilfiger. Before we get started. I just want to remind our listeners to please not forget to leave a rating or better yet a brief review on apple podcasts, Alisa promises to start reading her books from the how’s everyone doing.

Aileen: Alisa. Did you hear that?

Alisa: I guess I’m tied into that?


Lauren: That’s funny.

Alisa: I know I get so impatient. I think that’s really what it is. I’m just an impatient person.

Aileen: No, it’s weird too.

Alisa: I mean, is it though, is it really weird?

Aileen: Yeah. I mean, it’s charming.

Alisa: I would say it’s charming and weird. It can’t be both. It is what it is.


Lauren: it.

is what it is.

Josie: I just, I had like, I gotta, I gotta admit, I’ve read this book twice. So I feel prepared to talk about it, but I’ve just had, like, my husband had ankle surgery and my daughter came down with a terrible cold, literally [00:02:00] on the same day. So I had to keep the two of them separated and I was like, waiting on them going, cause he couldn’t catch her cold or it would interfere with his healing obviously.

And so I was running from room to room, bringing super here and tissues over there and you know how kids are, I mean, she’s seven, but when kids are sick, they just want to climb all over you. And like, they want to

Alisa: Yeah.

Josie: you and be on top of you. And, oh my God, it was just, it was like she was sick for days and like throwing up at night and

 She is she’s fine now. And it wasn’t anything like, we, it. COVID and ear infection, nothing. It was just like a bad


Alisa: Yeah, these colds and stomach fluids are going around and it’s,

Josie: know. And it freaked me out too. Cause I was sleeping with my daughter and while she was laying down, still asleep, I heard it go. And I was like, oh my God. And she’s got really like waist length hair. It’s like really long and really thick. And so I [00:03:00] just grabbed her by her hair and pulled her head because I was like, oh my God, John bono, not even drunk, she’s going to drown in her sleep.

Aileen: About getting sick now, because you have to worry about COVID on top of

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: It’s not just an annoying cold. It’s

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: we’re going to have to quarantine. Is this really serious?

Josie: Yeah, I had to separate the two of them then I was like, can I even go into the room with him because maybe I’m carrying it. And I don’t know. And

Aileen: It’s actually, I’ve been thinking about the whole pandemic thing, just because I feel like we’re going, we’re closing in, on like two years of this thing, and we’re all sort of adapted to life and it’s, this is normal, but it’s not quite normal. And I’m just thinking about the things in my life that have changed the most, like just daily things.

Like I think the biggest thing for me is I work from home now. All the time, which on one hand is great because I don’t have to deal with getting on a train and commuting into New York city and figuring out if my husband or I [00:04:00] am going to one to leave work early, to get our child from and get home.

But also it’s like, I’m in my house all the time. Like the morning, like I make myself go for a walk just to like get out and do something. So otherwise I’ll just, you know, you just wake up, throw in sweat sweatpants, turn on your computer and stare at a screen all day.

Josie: Welcome to my life

Aileen: Josie. Has your life changed a lot since the pandemic or is this like, are we living your life?

Is this.

Josie: It’s what my life. So except I go out less,

Aileen: wait. So how does, how does your, like, what’s the structure of your day? Like how many hours do you spend writing?

Josie: I can only write in short bursts because I I’m a very slow reader, actually. I’m ADHD. I’m dyslexic. I it’s so weird that I chose to be a writer because you think that that would not be the right thing at all, um, I can only work in short bursts, so that’s what I do, but I get a lot done when I sit down and I work.

And so that’s

Aileen: you actually sit and focus for like two hours at a time. Like there’s no screwing around on the internet or like you sit and

Josie: no, [00:05:00] I don’t go on the internet. No, I just, I sit, well, I don’t sit for that entire time. my office the way it’s set up. It’s just, it’s my desk in a corner. And then like a bed behind me, as you can see, there’s like a place for me to lay down if I need to lay down and think, and the rest of it is just open so that I can pace.

I can move around. I can do yoga. Like I’ll stop sometimes. And I’ll just stretch for a few minutes if I’m stuck because moving my body really helps me. And. Yeah, I don’t actually sit for very long. Like, I, I I’ll sit for like 10 minutes. I’ll write in a burst, I’ll get up. I’ll talk to myself. I look like a crazy person.

Like, I look insane.

Aileen: Oh my God. I think you need to set up a webcam so we can watch like

time-lapse footage of Josephine, Angelina, right?

Josie: listen to music sometimes in the background, sometimes I don’t, but, um, I’m usually talking to myself like the whole time. I’m like, it’s just, I look nuts. Um, yeah, that’s it,

Aileen: wow.


Okay. So yeah, let’s start talking about books. I think this is a pretty good time. So what did you read this week?

Aileen: So I read [00:06:00] big summer by Jennifer Weiner. Um, I love her books. I think I’ve read every single one of them. I just randomly picked one. I’d read recently to reread and discuss here. Um, but what I realized, like her books definitely fall into the category of women’s fiction, which I think we’ve all read something from that category.

is my favorite category of books. I hate that it’s called women’s fiction. And I realized, I feel kind of embarrassed owning the fact that this is the category of books that I enjoy reading.

Josie: It’s better than chiclet

Aileen: I know,

Josie: makes us sound like gum.

Aileen: I know at least we, we moved on from that, but I think we’ve talked about this before. Like there’s no men’s fiction.

So it was just weird that there’s this category of women’s fiction, but. They’re all, they’re all books about women and their relationships and their struggles and trials and tribulations. And like, I think it’s just interesting that women are drawn to books about women going through, dealing with relationships and all of [00:07:00] those things.


I don’t know.

Alisa: you find characters that you identify with.

Josie: No, because I

use books like Dr. Shebango that was written by a man. And it’s all about, it’s a little story. So I just don’t understand if a woman writes it and it has a main character, who’s female. Everyone naturally assumes that it’s, if there’s any love story in it at all, that it’s a love story.

Aileen: Maybe that sells better. Maybe that’s like when they’re looking at who they’re the audience they’re trying to reach. Um, anyway, so this book is called big summer and it’s about a woman in her twenties who is an Instagram influencer, which it’s so it’s so interesting to read a modern book. That’s talking about that, cause we all know that’s just part of our world now.

Um, but she’s this woman she’s, she’s kind of overweight, she’s overweight. So that’s, she’s learned how to embrace that and sort of done that through social media and, you know, she has different brands who are sponsoring her. She also likes to craft and sell things on Etsy. Um, I think she’s also [00:08:00] like a nanny, so she kind of has all these jobs.

She cobbles together. So she’s just like this kind of fun character then a friend of hers from her past, all of a sudden reappears. And it’s this girl drew who was beautiful and rich and popular, and they were best friends all through school, but she was also true was also just really cruel. She was one of the mean girls.

She was the girl who would pick on everyone else and because her family had money and because she was pretty, she would get away with whatever she wanted. And, um, the main character whose name I’m blanking on right now, and drew had a falling out and stopped talking and then suddenly drew reappears because she’s getting married.

She’s, she’s marrying, um, a reality show star. Um, and yes, and she realizes she has no friends to be in her wedding. So she asked this woman to be her maid of honor. So.

Josie: no.

Aileen: They kind of rekindle their friendship and then it’s the story of them becoming friends again, um, the [00:09:00] wedding, and then there’s actually a murder that happens.

So it kind of takes this turn.


Alisa: not see that.

Aileen: no out of nowhere, it’s very, it’s kinda, it’s different for a Jennifer Weiner book. Like usually there’s not people dying or getting killed in her books. So there’s, there’s like a murder mystery and then there’s like a mystery man and there’s a romance. Um, so it’s definitely, it falls into the category of like, uh, a beach read, which I also love beach reads.

I don’t know why they need to be called beach reads. Can we just call them like couch reads or at home reads or anytime you want to read, read? Um, but yeah, so I, I, I really liked this book and I like her books because I feel like I can always somehow relate to her characters. Like this woman lives in New York city.

I just love reading about people who live in New

York city.

Josie: New York? Kayleen I still dream about it. I haven’t lived there for 20 years and I still have dreams. Like I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and I’m like, I’m like for my rent and my apartment, like I have like these anxiety dreams, but I miss it.

Aileen: You know, I don’t, I mean, I’m still so close to it and we

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: and visit. So I don’t, [00:10:00] I don’t miss it, but I remember even when I was living there, I was aware of how lucky I was to live there. I mean, we, you know, we lived a half block from central park and, you know, I could walk to Broadway and see a show and I’m like, people come from all over the world to visit this city.

And it’s all just right here in front of me all times. And like, I always try to appreciate it because it, it is like, it’s an amazing special place, but I’m pretty happy in New Jersey.

Josie: Yeah.

Aileen: Um, but

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: I want to read this one passage from the book that just, it describes drew and I’m the main character I’m blanking on her name, um, their, their relationship when they were in school together.

Um, I knew that on Monday there was every chance she would ignore me. It wouldn’t matter. I would still want to be her friend because she was everything I wanted to be. She was beautiful and funny and glamorous along unfurled ribbon of cool where I was a sweaty pretzel, not of striving. I wanted her to be my friend.

I wanted her to tell me her secrets. I wanted to be pretty by association. If not in real life, [00:11:00] I wanted her, it intermittent kindness. And as much of her company as she’d give me, I wanted to be just like her. And if I couldn’t, I at least want it to be by her side, whatever she needed from me, I would give her whatever she needed, needed done.

I would do

Lauren: Wow. That reminds me so much of my age, my 13 year old and her best friend

Aileen: really.

Lauren: just makes me think of them, you know?

Aileen: Yeah, it makes you think about just those relationships in high school. I feel like we all sort of had the,

Alisa: There were always coattails. You wanted to and ride.

Aileen: yeah.

Josie: For me, it reminds me of she’s an Instagrammer. Right. But isn’t that what we do when we follow someone on Instagram, it’s

like we’re watching these people because it’s aspirational.

Lauren: Yeah,

Josie: I don’t know. There’s something, there’s something very linked semantically with she does and how she used to look up to this girl or want to be that girl.

Aileen: Yeah. I want to be perceived, just being caught up in how you’re perceived and just constantly thinking about how people are thinking about you, you

Josie: Yeah.

[00:12:00] It’s this weird jealousy based like that’s the currency in their relationship rather than understanding. It’s so terrible. I mean,

it’s just, going to make you feel horrible,

Alisa: Did they become friends again though when they rekindled the

Josie: genuine friends and not just like.

Aileen: not really, they, they become friends and throughout the book, drew was just horrible to everyone. Like no one really likes her. She’s there and there you learn their reasons why she is the way she is as always the case. But, um, she just doesn’t treat people well at all ever, but she gets away with it because she’s beautiful because she’s rich because she has things.

I think that other people want and value. She just gets away with acting like that. Right. There is another one. Oh, and then this passage just about, cause the whole Instagram influencer thing, I, it still blows my, I mean, I work in advertising, so I’ve worked for brands that have paid Instagram influencers to talk about a product and it still blows my mind that it’s actually a thing.

And that people make a [00:13:00] living on social media.

Josie: Like when we were kids made up jobs,

let’s pretend.

Aileen: And even when social media first became a thing and in my job by brands are starting to use it, I was like, I can’t believe this is becoming part of my job.

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: like such a fleeting thing. That’s not going to last and it’s lasted pretty long so far. Um, so, this is her talking about her, account.

If I landed the CA collaboration, it would mean that the money I earned as an influencer would be more than the money I made doing my regular 20 hour a week babysitting gig. And possibly even more than my dog’s account was bringing in.

Alisa: Her dog

Aileen: Her dog has an account, which is a real thing.

Alisa: That’s

smart marketing though. I mean,

Lauren: like I’m doing the wrong thing. I

Alisa: if you have a great looking dog, why not?

Josie: My husband and I have talked a lot about this he says, you know, there’s a reason, especially here in Los Angeles, there’s this big shortage shortage for wait staff. And they’re never used to be [00:14:00] used to be like, if you wanted to find a pretty young girl to be the hostess that was easy in Los Angeles, because everyone comes here with big dreams.

Um, and now there’s no that people are having a hard time staffing the restaurants

and it’s because everyone’s there on Tik TOK and they can make more money doing that. Oh, bless you, sweetie. They can make more money doing that for way less hours. And like, not have to put up with other people and their nonsense.

I used to wait tables and bartend, so I know what that nonsense

Aileen: oh, me too.

Josie: and they can make tons of money just being young and cute. And it’s like, oh no, no one behind the bar.

Aileen: I know, and it’s like, all joke about working in restaurants, but I mean, I, I did too. And you learn a lot of really valuable life lessons working

Josie: Yeah.

Alisa: Yes, you do.

Aileen: you learn how to be pleasant to people, even when they’re not being pleasant to you, you learn how to like multitask and do a million different things at once.

How to just [00:15:00] kind of win people over and be charming and

Josie: And how to stuff, your feelings just keep stuffing them down

Aileen: tell yourself I don’t matter. I don’t matter. I need the tips.

Josie: I don’t, I don’t need to speak up for myself at all.

Alisa: It seems lonely though. I can’t imagine not having human contact and, and it feels like you do, it feels like you’re having contact with people because they can see you and they can hear you. And, you have an audience, there’s no, there’s no actual to face

anyone challenging anything you’re doing in the moment.

I just think it would be pretty that.

was, that was the biggest challenge of teaching remotely is

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: the interpersonal interactions. It was, it was wretched.

Josie: Nothing makes me lonelier than having to go on and do social media. Nothing makes me feel like more empty than having to scroll through Twitter. I don’t know what it is. It

actually, even, I, I [00:16:00] don’t have like bad interactions with people in social media. I’ve always. You know, very supportive readers and people who are just coming to say, thank you.

I love this book and this is what it meant to me. And then will have these wonderful exchanges with people, but I’ll put my phone down and I just feel empty. It’s the


Aileen: It’s not real.

Josie: it feels wrong. Even though people are being genuine with me and loving and wonderful. And you know, I, I get like, amazing. I have an amazing support system from my readers. I still, for some reason it gives me anxiety. Every time I pick it up and I put it down feeling like something was taken from email that old, was that old method? Wasn’t there? Like there was this tribe in the Amazon jungle who wouldn’t let people take pictures of them because every time you took a picture, they felt like it took a part of their soul.

What if that turns out to be real?

Aileen: We all have no


Josie: We’re slowly

moving our.[00:17:00]

Aileen: Josie. Do you like, do you set a time, do you set aside time every day to go on social media or do you just constantly pick it up and look at it?

Josie: No, I don’t. I, if I didn’t say now I’m going to do it. I would never do it because it does. I don’t know. I think I’m one of those people who have anxiety or hurt or something. I just makes me feel like there’s something wrong about it. Like I’d rather look that person in the eye and listen to them and talk with them.

Aileen: I mean, it’s, it’s destroying civilization. I’m still on it all the time, but there’s no way it’s good for us.

Cause it’s also like with Instagram, it was called Instagram because it was, you were supposed to just capture real moments of your life and post them and show the way things really were. And that’s how it started.

And then it turned into like, oh, look at this cool filter and you can make yourself look like this and

you know, spend half an hour posing and looking. Perfect. Yeah. And then, and then people were upset because things look too curated. So now it’s like, well, I want to see how you really are. So I think people spend a lot of time trying to make their messy lives look messy in a perfect way.

You know what I mean? [00:18:00] So it’s still, it looks good, but it’s like, oh, I’m giving you a glimpse of my real life.

None of it’s real.

Josie: the way that social media is set up, it’s not set up for real social exchange. It’s set up to make you it’s quantified. Right? How many likes did you get? How many people shared this? It’s set up no matter how many likes you get, it’s never enough. So if you’re constantly measuring yourself, you’re always going to feel less than like, that’s just a known fact.

It’s like, it’s the same reason that people keep going back to casinos and like pulling the

Aileen: Yeah.

Josie: bandit is because

Aileen: I mean,

Josie: never enough.

Aileen: I mean, they’ve been, yeah, they’ve done studies and it’s yeah. Like it’s designed to mess with your brain and to make you want more.

Alisa: So in the book, does she ever talk about Um, if she, if she feels fulfilled her job,

Aileen: So I think she initially, so she gets on social media initially because it’s actually, when she, the night that she has a falling out with drew, um, she gets fat shamed in a bar and she ends up just [00:19:00] going off on this guy and telling him to go to hell and people film it and it ends up on YouTube. So suddenly she has all of this attention.

So she decides to take it and harness all that attention and turn it into something positive. So initially I think it’s something that really makes her feel fulfilled because suddenly she has all these followers and all these people telling her how amazing she is. And it doesn’t matter that she’s overweight and brands want to support her.

So. I think it’s something that kind of helps her grow and like helps her develop some self-esteem. But then I may, at one point she meets a guy who is not on social media at all, and they start hanging out and every time she picks up her phone and he’s like, could you not do that? And she’s like, but it’s my job.

And then she starts to kind of realize that she’s been living in this, in this fantasy world and she needs to pull herself out of it and of with the real people in her life.

 So I think she’s aware of her weird relationship with it and you know, just not trying to seem too perfect. And fact that she does have fans and she wants to make sure they see the real her and all that.

But it, it’s funny. It’s, it’s [00:20:00] interesting reading a book that talks about a social media influencer, because it’s hard to read it without kind of rolling your eyes. Cause I think we all look at them and we’re like, really? That’s what you do, but she’s, she’s a very endearing likable character. So you kind of feel like you understand.

How she started doing it and why she would do it. I mean, it’s a really quick, easy way to make money.

Josie: With Jennifer Weiner. characters, those characters that you relate to that are complicated. It’s not just like, oh, she was, she had a rough childhood. And so now we all feel

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: for her. And awesome. So now we don’t love her, but she writes these. you say that that’s like a hallmark of her stuff?


Aileen: like, she definitely writes, again, this, this felt like one of her kind of fluffier reads, which I’m totally okay with. Cause I’m all about fluffy reads these days. I don’t want to have, I don’t want to be sad. I don’t like, I just want something that’s going to

Lauren: Yeah.

Aileen: attention and suck me in.

But yet her characters are usually flawed. They’re pretty complex. They have interesting relationships with different people in their lives. There’s [00:21:00] always some romance, but there’s usually like some family stuff and some struggles and. It like really interesting involved storylines. And I feel like when you talk about like reads and stuff, are a lot of them out there that are really popular and you start reading them and you’re like, this is crap.

This is so poorly written. And the thing I love about her books is it falls into the B3 category. Sometimes, sometimes it’s a

Josie: Because the plot,

it moves along.

Aileen: she’s a, she’s a great writer. Like she just describes the setting really well. She describes her characters really well. Yeah. There’s always something interesting or unexpected happening.

And I feel, I feel good about myself reading it cause I’m like, it’s the fluffy stuff that I like, but

she’s just such an excellent writer. just every book she writes, minute I see she has a book out, I want to read it. And I think we’ve talked about this before, but it’s hard to do that. Like how do you keep churning out books with all these different types of characters that

really people in?

I think she’s had so many New York times bestsellers. Obviously she has a huge [00:22:00] following now, but her books are just consistently good a bunch of them have been made into movies.

Good in bed in her shoes, I think was the one with, uh, Cameron Diaz. And it’s always, I mean, it’s always centered around women it’s women’s relationships and the women are always, you know, somehow flawed like overweight. I

Josie: it’s not a


Aileen: yes.

That’s, that’s true. That’s true.

Josie: It’s called genetics.

Aileen: but, but it’s sort of, it’s always like when the character is overweight, she always makes a point to mention it and talk about it. And it’s of how the character is built. You know, it’s,

it’s sort of important part, part of that person’s identity.

but you also had one book where one of the characters was like in a wheelchair, you know, which is something that you don’t

always read.

Josie: Representation is important.

Aileen: Yeah. So I just, every time I see that there’s one of her books that I

haven’t read, I get excited and I want to read it.

Josie: So we going to Alyssa next or Lauren like Alyssa, do you want to cut or can we go to Lauren? Because I want to hear what this saucy Minx was reading

Alisa: I know


Lauren: Um, oh yeah. So I’ll see makes here last week you guys were saying, I was just [00:23:00] like, too good. So I had to, I have to bring it this week. Um, but let me just preface this by saying last winter, I. was watching a lot of Netflix and I ended up watching the whole first season of Virgin river, which is based on Robin cars series.

And I enjoyed it a lot. Um, nothing really special about the acting or, or even the plot, but I really liked the characters. So as per usual, once I really enjoy the characters, I, I pursue it. You know, I’ll look for, um, uh, continue reading a series. If something’s on TV, you know, I’ll continue to want to, to read it or find something like it.

And so I looked it up and it turns out Robin Carr had written the series. So of course I had to go and read it. Right. Um, the characters in the book are melon. Jack. Mel’s a nurse. Jack is a. He’s a veteran and he owns a bar in this town, Virgin river. And I could go into this book, but there’s really not a whole lot to say about it, except that [00:24:00] I feel like Robin Carr, she, she trained as a nurse and her husband was an air force in the air force, I believe.

So. I feel like she really does pull a little bit from her personal experiences when she writes, because she often writes about veterans. Um

Josie: wondering, I was wondering, because

Lauren: Hm.

Josie: the Virgin river,

Lauren: Yeah,

Josie: and there was a lot of stuff in there. She’s a midwife. Is that

Lauren: that’s right.


Josie: was a lot of stuff in it where I was like, well, that’s just not something, you know

Lauren: Right,

Josie: even know if that’s something you

Lauren: right. And she does include, um,


Josie: the doctor, nurse relationship, and all that stuff that I found really fascinating.

Lauren: right. Since she does that also in other econom in grace valley as well, where there’s, uh, a family practice and a female doctor. So it is definitely a theme and veterans are definitely a theme in your book, but she also writes about social themes, like poverty, domestic abuse, um, you know, things like that and, and mental, mental health in

Josie: Yeah.

Lauren: So

Josie: There’s like, this family that sort of living out in the woods [00:25:00] and Virgin

river, and it’s like, there’s the

meth situation going on there.

Lauren: yeah. Right.

Josie: that happens a lot in here in the

Lauren: Yeah,

Josie: There’s like all this open land and

Lauren: yeah. Yeah. That seems a little for me as a Northeastern Northeasterner does that sound right? I mean, whatever. Um, it seemed a little odd to me, but yeah, I think. That’s definitely a west coast, what I was going with this is that I went, when I pursued the books like lately, because I’m in, I’m pursuing my masters.

haven’t been able to sit and read a book, a physical book. So I looked, I found all of her books, um, on hoopla, which I it’s a subscription. I get through the library I work at. You should all look into that it’s free. And, um, and so I started listening to these books on CD and it was like one after the other, after the, the, uh, Virgin [00:26:00] river series, there’s a lot in that series.

Um, then when I finished that, Um, then there’s, Sullivan’s crossing there’s grace valley and then there’s a bunch of standalones. but where I’m going with this is that I love listening to these books because love the, the idea that it’s brain candy, that I can get involved with the characters and the community. I care about them. And I think Robin car there, their grocery store paperbacks, for sure. But there’s something nice about these, you know, Their sex, which we’ll get to, but the person who reads these books, her name is Therese Plummer, and she is fabulous.

She’s one of the audio ward. Um, she’s audio ward for audible, um, audio books. So people who read books, this

Aileen: Gotcha.

Lauren: that’s very prestigious for them. Um, she can do different voices, uh, very well. I don’t know how she switches between male. I don’t know. Just press pause. Cause I wouldn’t be [00:27:00] able to do that.

Like children’s voices, elderly. She’s pretty amazing. Um, and so the only reason I’ve stuck with the series besides the fact that I like them. Um, she’s fantastic. but honestly, if you’re looking for a good read that might like, I don’t know, raise your temperature a little bit because it’s steamy. I recommend Robin car. And I’m not going to read excerpt from it because I just can’t. It’s just

Aileen: Why can’t you Lauren?

Lauren: because I can’t openly say those words, Alyssa, the scientist has no problem

doing this.

Aileen: got to put on her reading glasses. It’s like Ben Franklins about to read a sex scene to us.

Alisa: These are not my cute reading glasses. My cute reading glasses are at school. These, yeah, these, I do look like Ben Franklin. [00:28:00] Um, there, some of this is gonna make me wildly uncomfortable, but I realize there are parts that I, I could read the middle part, which, which is suggestive without, you know, like some of the words.

Do you want me to just do the whole thing?

Aileen: Alyssa.

Alisa: All right, fine.

Josie: And she’s got a little dog on her lap.

Alisa: I know I might have to put Cooper down for this. Alright. This whole thing. This is going to be long.

Aileen: what she


Alisa: All Right.

One of his big hands went under her, between her legs, his Palm flush against her pushing, rubbing. She wished she had come to him naked, saving time her thighs and buttocks. She felt him grow. She ate so deeply, wanted so much to be full of him, full of passion and love. He lifted her. He carried her.

She had never, before been carried to bed with [00:29:00] her arms around him, she kissed his neck licking in the taste of him floating in his arms, up the stairs. As they approached his bedroom, she lifted her head glancing anxiously towards the bedroom where the children slept. Mike, she whispered we’ll close the door.

He said, entering and doing so they tumbled onto the bed together, their hands moving wildly over each other, struggling with clothing, desperate to get it out of the way. Do you want me to use something? He asked her, can you, yes. He said sure. But he didn’t stop kissing her or pulling it or clothing. He tugged it or jeans or underwear burying his head in her. She whispered against his open mouth. Okay. Hold on. I’m going to pause.

Lauren: Let me just say, I actually really like how Robin Carr always brings up the birth control thing. I think

it’s really, really smart,

Alisa: Yeah. Okay. They couldn’t simply kiss for awhile. First. Chris realized as [00:30:00] if on a date, she lived in his house. She had come to him and put her arms around his neck. It was not a seduction and could not be misconstrued as one. It was surrender until now. They both had reigned in their desires, it, without speaking of it, until they were ready for all of each other, she would not have played with his delicate restraints.

She wouldn’t lean toward him inviting until she was prepared to take him into her body. this unspoken fact was understood by them. Both. That was why his hands were fast. Sorry. That is why his hands fast ingredient under her, her blouse. Her bra. I want to touch you. He said every part of you, every part. Yeah, I’m done.

Aileen: Yeah,

Josie: Alissa, I think you have a future.

Lauren: Well, that’s what I’m trying to get.

Alisa: That would be very difficult to read.

Lauren: she does it so well, she’s my, she’s my go-to audio book reader. [00:31:00] So I don’t know what I’m going to do when I exhaust Therese Therese plumber. I’ll have to find somebody else. But

Aileen: picking books based on whether she reads


Lauren: I

Josie: That’s amazing.

Lauren: know. She’s so good. And did do tender is the night by F Scott Fitzgerald and apparently it’s, it’s amazing. So she’s she does. And she’s done children’s books too, so she’s really got a repertoire.

Yeah. So I think that if, if we have our listeners are looking for some good women’s fiction, as we’ve discussed,

Josie: have to have a romance novel in


Lauren: fill the bathtub, put it on your phone, listen to it. Just relax.

Josie: Don’t bring the phone into the,

Lauren: Yeah. Either it’ll put you in the mood.

Aileen: I mean, audio audio, lets you go hands free.

Lauren: That’s right. That’s right.

Aileen: perfect for

romance, right?

Alisa: And you’d be amazed at some of the things that are advertised in the sharper image catalog. Now,

Lauren: I haven’t seen the

Josie: I’ve never seen it. I don’t know

Aileen: Oh, where our vibrators in there is

Alisa: oh yeah. Oh yeah. [00:32:00] But they’re called personal massagers.

Lauren: Ah,

Josie: all shapes and sizes to


Lauren: go.

Alisa: I tried to, um, Pointed out to my husband. And he was like, what? It’s a personal massager, what? I’m like, take a look at this and

Aileen: it’s a very personal massager.

Alisa: And he was like, I don’t understand what you’re trying to tell me. Like, he was shocked when I kind of decoded what was, what was going on with the suggestive picture of it against a naked leg on the edge of a bathtub.


Josie: the edge of their leg. Like, oh yeah, my shin,

Aileen: Maybe people have, have weird fetishes,

Josie: We’re all for boring girls from Massachusetts. No fascists. I just like, just that’s it. So Alyssa, what did you read this week?


Alisa: I read Helen Bridget Jones’s diary

and yes, late nineties book, 96, 1 [00:33:00] book award in 97. The movie came out in the early two thousands. And as I re-read the book, all I could picture was the movie characters. And. I realized that this is one of the books that I really enjoyed the movie. I didn’t feel like it took anything away from the book and the characters, the way they are, the actors, the way they played the characters really add a depth to the characters.

Um, so it was, it was a nice going back and rereading, even though I had all these images in my head that weren’t there originally, when I read the story. So Bridget Jones’s diary is written as a diet, a series of diary entries over the course of a year. And it starts with January 1st and goes all the way through And it’s a woman London, in her early thirties, a Singleton life and Chronicles, just the mundane, [00:34:00] everything on a day-to-day basis. Um, but. The vice through, which, uh, it’s portrayed is, as I said, it’s written as a diary. And so there are abbreviations, there’s no pronouns anywhere. Um, really with the way, um, if it’s, if it’s the journal entry style, it’s, it definitely adds immediate awareness to this character and in a particular, I don’t know, flavor that, that she has with how she approaches things.

Um, there’s some things in it that, you know, you kind of take for your, you kind of squint a little and you’re like, okay, well, I don’t know that somebody would really be recounting an entire conversation word for word in their diary, but it, you know, it’s, it’s a good way to get, get across the information.

Um, when I went to look up just whatever I could find, I was curious about the history of the book and, I mean, just any, any other tidbits of knowledge, there’s really a divide for as, as well [00:35:00] received as this book was, there’s a big divide with people who loved it, versus those who hated it. Um, just in, because she starts every, entry starts with her chronicling.

And I can just flip to any page per weight, uh, the number of cigarettes that she’s smoked, the number of drinks that she’s had and the number of calories that she has taken in. And so she’s, she’s very aware of how she looks and what she’s eating and drinking too. This woman drinks a lot,

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: the, Yeah.

at the end, she kept her year in review with all of these.

Um, and she says she had 114 non hangover. Um, it, you know, it starts with, she works in publication. She’s low person on, in the hierarchy. She has a flirtatious back and forth, totally inappropriate with her boss, Daniel Cleaver, who is flirty. And [00:36:00] I mean, none of this would okay.

They have an affair on again, off again. She has a core group of friends that I love, at a moment’s notice she can call them up Sharon Jude, uh, Tom, and they’ll all meet in the pub and they’ll talk and they’re constantly giving her advice and they’re always calling each other from the bathrooms at work, the various places that they work. And so they help her deal with this Daniel Cleaver obsession. Her parents are a nightmare. Her mom is overbearing, always trying to set her up with someone and it just, Chronicles her career. She changes jobs. She starts to work in a television agency and that better. She goes from, you know, the, the inappropriate flirtatious boss at the book publication company to the inept sexual harassing boss at the TV publication place.

And, you know, she can’t ever quite realize what she’s in. And I think that’s one of the things that [00:37:00] people for the critics of it. They’re like, why is, why does she put up with this? Why does she talk about wanting the attention of these men and why is she always so consumed with her weight and how she looks and, But she’s funny, she’s relatable.

Josie: genuine,

but it’s genuine too.

Lauren: upsets me, that people say why? Because let’s face it, like women do that. It’s unfortunate that we do obsess about certain things, but I mean, it’s relatable.

Alisa: and she

Aileen: And, and, and,

Alisa: oh,



Aileen: we’re reading her diary. So you’re

getting a glimpse into her brain and the things that are happening in her brain. So it makes you feel like you’re, you’re hearing things that probably she’s not proud of, but she’s, it’s being shared and it’s true.

Alisa: And one of the things that she says is wise, people will say, Daniel should like me just as I am, I’m a child of cosmopolitan culture been traumatized by supermodels and too many quizzes to know that neither my personality nor my body is up to it. If left to its own devices, can’t take the [00:38:00] pressure.

I’m going to cancel and spend the evening eating donuts in a cardigan with egg on it, you know? So, so she does

Aileen: Yes, please.

Alisa: acknowledge. All of the social pressures.

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: Um, and she’s very funny and she does stand up for herself, but I mean, there are several times when she gives the various men a what for,

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: seriously, haven’t we all kind of put up with

it. It’s I mean, we’ve all put up with that. She’s just talking about the day-to-day life, especially in the mid to late nineties. I mean, that was dare girl.

You can’t change the way things used to be.

Alisa: one of

Lauren: Yeah.

Alisa: that I did not see the book I read some of the commentary on it it is a retelling of pride and prejudice with,

Josie: Oh yeah.


Alisa: with,

Aileen: Yeah,

Alisa: um, you know, the, bad boyfriend who actually. Is a fuckwit according to, you know,

Aileen: word.

Alisa: it is, oh, it’s such a good [00:39:00] word. So he wronged mark Darcy.

So, and the name is,

Josie: Mr Darcy.

Alisa: just perfect. So, you have the fuckwit Daniel, and then you have mark Darcy, but her mother is overbearing and her family gets into trouble. And cause the mother ends up running off and having an affair and the family kind of falls apart, but the mother ends up in legal trouble because mother’s boyfriend is, is doing some shady financial dealing, but mark has to go undo all of that

Josie: Oh, just like

Mr. Darcy does

Lauren: back now. Yeah.

Alisa: then at the end, you know, as well. when they first meet right at the beginning of the story, um, mark Darcy Brandon. Meet and he’s unforgivably rude and like, I don’t like him. He’s a jerk. Um, and so then of course, as the story unfolds, she realizes why he was a jerk and that he really is a good guy and [00:40:00] he saved her family.

And so it ends with them getting together. Um, yeah. It’s, you know, it’s cute. I like that. It’s written as a journal. Every chapter is a different month. fun.

Lauren: And I do like the movie a lot. I really like to grant in that.

Alisa: He, he

Josie: So all of these, it’s a very divisive book though. There’s like, you know, this is January and this is how much I weight. So there are all these devices in it and she’s got to check all these boxes. And you said that it gets sort of strained in places where she’s recounting entire verbatim

Lauren: Yeah.

Josie: But apart from that, it’s sort of like, I can’t think of that many other books that have used these particular devices. I mean, there are lots of books that talk that break it up into months. Like they bring up, it’s going to be over the span of a year and I’m going to talk about it in months. But also gets that extra of what it is to be a woman.

I’m not supposed to drink too much. I’m not supposed to smoke too much. I’m not supposed to eat ice cream. I’m not supposed to, you know, like [00:41:00] all of this stuff that society tells us we are and aren’t supposed to do. So she’s trying to keep track of it. Like it’s like her weight Watchers thing, you know what I mean?

Like writing down every calorie she eats.

Here’s the thing. So many people talk down about beach reads or it’s a light, it’s an easy read. It’s a women’s fiction. It’s this it’s that

you, you have no idea what that woman is going through in her everyday life. And if she can read something that takes her out of that, that she relates to that grounds her in herself.

That makes her go. Yeah. Isn’t it silly that I’ve got to shave my legs every frigging, if she finds like community in that read or understand. You’ve no, like saying that it’s just an escapist read or it’s just fluff is you don’t know what she’s escaping from. I mean, that’s just ridiculous.

Aileen: But it’s also that this idea that books have to be so serious, you know, we’ve talked before about literature and what is literature. And they’re usually really [00:42:00] long, boring, hard to read books, but so many of these books are so well-written, but they’re not about war or what people would think are serious subjects, but they’re still, they’re still giving you a glimpse into someone else’s life.

building characters that you care about. They’re creating stories. I just suck you in and that you want to keep reading and yeah, there’s so much value in that.

Lauren: And they’re accessible because you don’t have to have the literary knowledge of literature, the understanding of literary elements.

Josie: You don’t have to be able to break it down.


Lauren: You can just grab it and read it and it doesn’t matter what your education level is. I mean, I know what Josie’s book is gonna be in a minute, but so I think hers is not quite in this zone, the book that I’m the books that I talked about, the Virgin Rover series, you know, going to get together in the end,

Josie: right

Lauren: know, there’s going to be a certain formula and it’s, there’s nothing is going to jump out at you and freak you out, So I think there’s [00:43:00] value in that for some people.

Aileen: Yeah. And just recognize, recognizing all the different reasons why people read books,

Josie: exactly.

Aileen: you know, like sometimes you want to think sometimes you want to learn about something new. Sometimes you want to escape. Sometimes you just want to feel good. fact that there are all these different genres that can do that is amazing.

And the fact that this genre would be one that people look down upon is really gross because there are millions of people who love reading these types of books. And there’s so much value in that.

Josie: Um, I I guess I’ve read like the heaviest of all the books.

Aileen: Yes, you win.

Josie: I read me before you buy Jojo Moyes. And it was fantastic. It was absolutely fantastic. I’ve read it before. And I remember having liked it, but rereading it again this week. I don’t know. Maybe I read it too quickly or it wasn’t what I expected the first time, but reading it the second time, I was like, how delicately she handled that situation.

So me before you is the story of [00:44:00] this girl, Louisa Clark she’s 26. Something has happened to her in her life and. She sort of shut down. So she works in a cafe. She works as a waitress and the cafe closes down the it’s. So she loses her job. Not because she’s bad at it. She was actually a very good waitress.

And so she’s got to go find another job because her family situation is, uh, her parents don’t make a lot of money. Her dad works, her mom doesn’t, her mom stays home, takes care of her father, grandpa who’s had a stroke. So he’s home all the time. He needs care. And, uh, Luis’s sister Katrina or Trina.

She, uh, the brilliant one, she actually got pregnant in college. So she had to like drop out of school and bring her


Josie: son home. And she works at a flower shop and she hates it. She’s actually a really, really smart woman. And like her brain is dying and she wants to go back to university. But to do that, Lou Louisa has to work.

She’s got to get a job or like her family is there. They’re in a lot of trouble So [00:45:00] she ends up having the only thing she’s qualified to do apart from pole dancing apparently is home care. So she’s a great, I’m going to be wiping it all persons bottom, basically. She’s like, I can’t, I don’t know if I can handle this.

She ends up getting hired by Camilla trainer to take care of Ken. Melissa will is in his thirties and he is a quadriplegic. He’s a C5, six quad. And that means nothing from basically like a little bit higher than his nipples down works. He barely has use of one of his hands so he can move himself around on a wheelchair.

This book surprised me in, I mean, you go into it thinking, oh guy in a wheelchair, this is going to be a Florence Nightingale situation. This is a love story where she falls in love with her patient will was, um, basically like a robber Baron. He was like, one of those guys. Bought companies broke them up, sold them, made tons of money.

Um, he was just like a go getter [00:46:00] and he rode a motorcycle. He didn’t become a quadriplegic from a motorcycle. He got hit by somebody else’s motorcycle and that’s the irony in it. And he ends up a quad and he was a bungee jumper. He’s climbed mountains. He’s like one of those always moving, always active people.

And now he’ll, you know, he can’t do any basic thing for himself. Nothing not even feed himself. And that’s just a horrible situation, not just in general for anybody going through it. It’s such a life change, but for his particular personality, it’s not the life he wants to live. It’s not his life. And it doesn’t.

I know this sounds strange. It doesn’t suit his personality. Like it’s wrong for him to be this way. It’s one of the things that keeps coming up. So she ends up taking care of them, but she has no, I mean, this guy has serious medical stuff that he needs done. Like he has a catheter and a bag. And um, so he has [00:47:00] somebody who takes care of all of that, this great guy named Nathan, who he also has all of the minutia of being a quad that you wouldn’t like, you don’t think about.

It’s not just that they can’t move, he can’t sweat. So he can’t regulate his own body temperature. So something as simple as having too heavy of a blanket on him can give him a fever. Like it can raise his temperature. He can get infections from anywhere he can get. pneumonia from ed? Just because he hasn’t moved enough.

And there are just so many things, bedsores, all of this stuff that you can think of that can happen to this guy. He could die any second.

Aileen: Is this book really depressing.

Josie: No. Oh God, no. I maybe it’s like, you think it’s going to be depressing, but it winds up being really life-affirming. And I know that it’s about choice at the end. Ultimately it’s about choice. So Louisa says there, she doesn’t know why she’s there and she’s not a medical professional. She has no idea why she’s there to take care of him.

And he’s horrible to her. Like he’s just absolutely [00:48:00] terrible to her. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with her. And then like over the course of events it happens, and this is another thing that’s done really well. The relationship builds between them in increments. And it’s not necessarily romantic.

Like, would you understand that there’s this closeness that’s developing between them. And there are these few moments, like,

you know, like she has to brace him to. Help move a pillow or something like that. And he has to like lay against her because he can’t use his arms to hold himself up. And she’s like, she’s like, he smells like a man.

You know, like there are all of these things about them and like the shape of his hands is very masculine and very attracted to her. And he’s still like a good looking dude and she’s, she is attracted to him and she does care about him, but it’s never, it doesn’t really veer in that direction until the very end.

And he actually steps away and says now, because he’s been planning right from the beginning, That in six months, he’s going to go to this place called Dignitas, which is a place in Switzerland and he’s going to end his life. So she finds that [00:49:00] out about, I’d say the inciting incident is when she starts working.

And then the end of act one is basically these two beats where she learns that he’s tried to kill himself in like a very determined way, um, where, and he’s got these huge scars that run all the way up and down his arms because he found a nail sticking out of a wall and moved his wheelchair forward and back over it.

Aileen: Wait, and this book is not depressing.

Josie: No, it is. I am telling you, so his parents said, okay, we’ll give you, just give us six months. We’re going to try and change your mind. And Louisa is supposed to kind of be there just to watch him and make sure he doesn’t try anything like with the nail again. And they’re like, you know, be upbeat, try to make him happy in his life. It’s kind of ridiculous. She’s never going to make him happy in his life. Like this is not the life that he wants. And one of the things that he says to her, so she’s like, oh, I’m going to take him to the races. We’re going to see horses, race, and it’s going to be fun. And it’s horrible. He hates it. It’s a horrible situation.

He doesn’t [00:50:00] want to do it. He’s like, if you just asked me, instead of choosing for me and his thing over and over again is everybody’s making these choices for me. Like his mom says trying to sneak more vegetables into his food and she’s like trying to mash up the carrots and put gravy on them and feed him carrots.

And he’s like, why are you trying to sneak carrots into me? Like a teaspoon full of carrots is going to change the quality of my life. And he’s like, sort of laughing. He’s not saying. And he was like, just, I don’t want the carrots just like, listen to me and do what I want. I don’t, I don’t want to eat the carrots and I don’t want to go to the horse races.

That’s not fun for me, but everybody’s making choices for him. And it turns out like Dignitas, this ending his life is the one choice that he can make for himself and he’s made it, and in the end they go on this vacation and it’s wonderful. It’s like paradise and he goes swimming again, but not really swimming, just sort of floating. She does like this whole thing where she’s, cause he’s a [00:51:00] God, he does this. Like she does this whole thing where she’s like, I’m in love with you and she’s kissed and she’s sitting in the wheelchair with him and she’s kissing him is very Roman. It’s beautiful. And, and he’s like, I don’t want to do this.

Like, I don’t want, basically, I don’t want to have sex with you because I can’t have sex with you the way that I would, like, I don’t, I don’t want things done to me. He’s like, I want to do things to you and I can’t, and I never will

be able to do.

Aileen: at all right.

Josie: No cause see, here’s the thing. You learn a lot about quads when you’re reading this, because she actually has like a lot of information in there.

It’s all different, like

some quads and he’s one of the quests. You can feel his skin. He could definitely get an erection. He can feel he can’t move his body, but he can still feel, and he can feel people touching him. He can, he can’t really tell heat difference very much, but definitely pressure and touch.

And he’s actually very sensitive and he’s in a lot of pain all the time. And that’s kind of like a sad thing that you say he never complains about it, this book. What I, [00:52:00] what I really loved about it was that it’s not, it’s not preachy either way. There are characters in it who are like, what he’s doing is wrong.

he, his parents shouldn’t help him and his life he’s in a. Vulnerable situation. And it might just be easier for them if their son was just gone because literally every day of your life, when you’re that dependent on others and you can get sick so easily. you know, you’re always fighting infection the hospital.

You’re always one step away from going to the hospital. Um, that like just having that person die is of easier, you know, in a certain way. So I think it’s, it’s um, lose mom who won’t accept it. She’s like, I can’t, I, I don’t want you in the house if you’re going to go and be with him when he ends his life, because that’s people are taking advantage of him given more time and he’ll get used to it.

But he already has made his choice. the theme of the book and [00:53:00] what I really thought was delicately handle just that this was his. And this was the only choice that he could make. And that maybe it isn’t, if you’re a quadriplegic and every other choice in your life has been taken away from you even like when you eat what you eat, how much, how big of a bite is put onto your fork, like you don’t even get to control how big of a mouthful it is that you eat. And if this is your one, the one thing that you get to choose, maybe let people choose that, but there’s no preaching in it. There’s no like this is right or wrong. Even at the end, Louisa is she’s super torn about it. She’s like, I don’t know if he did the right thing, but he did what he wanted. And that

has to be enough for me. And she’s devastated by it. Obviously she’s devastated because she’s basically hands herself to him. Like, I love you. I want to be with you. And it’s not enough. But it was uplifting because he does finally, he says goodbye [00:54:00] to her

and he does admit, I love you too. I did fall in love with you and you’re, is probably the best six months of my life, but it’s still not enough. And I loved that for a love story for someone to actually be like, I can’t just live for you.

I can’t just live for this love affair know, that’s not enough for me. I want to be able to bungee jumping right motorcycles. And that’s the person I am gone for me. I want to die. And he makes

that choice.

Lauren: See, I, I read this, I read this book from my book group and I was the only one. I, don’t, I love the book, but the ending, I just, I just wanted them to be together. And it was so

Josie: I know

I didn’t let okay. Here’s the thing. I didn’t like the ending, but it was perfect.

Lauren: No, of course it

Josie: It had to end that way

Lauren: Um,

Josie: sit there going, why couldn’t he have just, why couldn’t she have been enough?

But then when I stop and think about it, because she just wouldn’t have been,

Alisa: I like the idea of him having agency. I think there are so many, so many stories and so many characters in. And maybe this is an [00:55:00] internalization also of being a woman. There’s so many times where it’s a telling of, need to put our lives on hold, or we need to, sacrifice some aspect of what we want to fulfill somebody else’s needs.

And, as sad as I think this book is I really like the agency that he has to say, no, this is my choice. It’s not enough for me to live for you. I have to also live for myself because I matter, and there are so many characters that we see where they’re

Josie: Love conquers all are like, right? Like, love is the ultimate prize that you get. And that’s like the message that you get from a lot of love stories. It’s like, once you fall in love, your life is fixed. He’s like, no, I did fall in love with you. And my life is still not what I want it to be.

Alisa: You fall in

love with someone some personal cost, like, well, it’s okay that you’re

Josie: Yeah.

Alisa: up this aspect of yourself.

Aileen: Yeah. And you can’t, you can’t just live your life for another person. It also just makes you think about what [00:56:00] is living your life. Like things are taken away from you, like your mobility, your, your being able to feed yourself, being able to anything on your own. Are you still living your life the way you want to live it?

At what point at what? What, like, what are the, what are the things that are crucial to you to feel like you’re, it’s still worth being alive? And I think it’s probably a little different for different people, but.

Josie: Right. And she does bring up those other points. So Louisa joins this online, like message board with a lot of quads on it. And a lot of quad Garrett caregivers and a lot of the cards. And like, my life still has value. So you do see this other side of it where they’re like, I still do stuff with the same injury as him with the same health problems and they still get out in the world and they love it.

And they actually find enjoyment in their life. Again, it’s just, we’ll never would, do you see what it’s like?

Aileen: everyone’s

Josie: about that individual. Exactly

okay. So alien. Do you want to do your final.

Aileen: Yeah. So a big summer by Jennifer Weiner. If you just want a book about a really about smart, complex, [00:57:00] interesting women, her books always have that. escapist reads. They’re also just brilliantly written and just engrossing. You can just get completely lost in her books. I just, think I’ve liked every single book of hers I’ve ever read.

pretty sure I’ve read all of them. go back through my Amazon account every now and then to make sure I haven’t missed any, because I’m like, does she have, and it’s always like a special treat if there’s one that I’ve missed somehow. So I just love all of her books.

Josie: Fantastic Alyssa,


Jones’s diary.

Alisa: Yes. Um, it’s a fun read. It’s fun to get a glimpse into the life of someone. And I Really. like the way it’s told through her personal diary entries. It’s fun. It’s yes, it’s formulaic. Um, but you also feel like you’re in on this little secret that it’s a modern retailing or a different retailing of pride and prejudice and the characters and their names because they even mentioned, Colin Firth and Hugh grant in the book.

And then to have them [00:58:00] be the

Josie: Really.

Alisa: are the actors that play the characters in the movie, and then all the references to private prejudice. And fun. It’s a fun read.

Josie: And for me, um, I, I read me before you buy Jojo Moyes, and this is weighty and it is an issues book, but it’s, it is also a great love story. And it’s a story of a young woman who very much in the vein of all of these other books is very much about a young woman.

Who’s trying to navigate her life and ultimately learn how to live her life to the best.

 what we’re going to say. Lauren looks like you really need.

Lauren: I have to go

Josie: Okay. Okay. But before you leave, we should say goodbye to our listeners because this is our final episode of the year and the end of season one.

We’ll be back January 10th for our second season.

Josie: So happy holidays, everyone.

Alisa: Happy new year.

Josie: Yay. Bye.

Alisa: Bye.

Josie: You’ve been listening to fiction between friends to find the show notes for this episode, or to subscribe and get new [00:59:00] episodes delivered automatically. Visit fiction between friends.com. Also, if you happen to have a moment and you’ve liked what you’ve heard, please help support our podcast by leaving a review on apple podcasts.

We would be immensely grateful. Thank you for listening.

4 comments on “Ep.8: Big Summer, Me Before You, Virgin River, Bridget Jones’ Diary

  1. Shauna says:

    Women’s fiction is not my go-to genre but when I do read it, I really do enjoy it! Loved Bridget Jones, book and movie! Virgin River is such a great show and I do have the first few books on audio that I really need to listen to. One of my favorites that would fall into this category is the Austenland books by Shannon Hale. I do like the second book better, Midnight in Austenland just because I related so much more to it at the time I read them.

    I hope you all have Happy Holidays and I look forward to Season 2!

    1. Aileen says:

      Happy Holidays, Shauna! Thanks for continuing to listen and leaving such great comments.

    2. Alisa says:

      HI Shauna
      Isn’t it funny how some books -like Midnight in Austenland for you – are at the right place and the right time and leave a deeper mark than they would otherwise? It’s one of the reasons why I like rereading books. You never know how you will reconnect to it (and sometimes you don’t! which has happened to me too!)
      Happy New Year! See you for season 2!

  2. Emma says:

    I just realized I somehow forgot to leave a comment on this one, shame on me… since it’s been a while since I heard it, I don’t really have much to say except for embrace the romance and maybe “women’s fiction” really is a seal of approval, a marker for “you will find no weird descriptions of women in this book, no comical sentences of male authors not knowing how to write women and most importantly, no breasting boobily down the stairs!” (which, if you guys were to make an episode about the subreddit r/menwritingwomen? that would be hilarious)

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