Saturday, April 20, 2013

Review/Q&A: Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn

Finding Out

Getting dumped on the sidewalk by her live-in boyfriend of seven years and finding he nearly emptied their savings account is the first of Sheila Davenport's problems. At thirty-six, Sheila had thought her life was on track.

Now she's saddled with a mortgage that is about to skyrocket, a psychotic boss, and she has to train someone who is unqualified and just doesn't care about the rules. Life no longer makes sense.

Her friends advise her to date immediately, preferably someone rich and successful, or risk being old and alone. But Sheila's trying to figure out what went wrong and how she got to this place. Since Prince Charming has ruined Sheila's life, who can save her now?

Help comes unexpectedly from her elderly neighbor, Ruth Grey, who has had her own share of life's ups and downs. As their friendship grows, Ruth reveals a mesmerizing story of life in WWII Germany mixed with a tale of powerful love and revenge. Ruth's story provides the perspective that Sheila needs to put the pieces of her own life together.

Will Sheila succeed at work or walk away? Can she save her home? And why do her friends think their lives are any better?

A story of love found and lost, true friendship, and how the human spirit endures, FINDING OUT is a gripping page-turner that pays homage to the greatest generation of our time.

Finding Out is witty, gritty and fun chick lit novel mixed with a compelling and engrossing fiction novel.  I can honestly say that I have not read a book of this mix before and I LOVED it. There are so many thing that I loved about it so I am just going to list them.

1.  The amazing characters.   There is a character to love, one to cheer for, one you want to become friends with and so many more.  I just loved Ruth and was so enthralled by her history and resilience   I think that anyone that is struggling can learn a lot from her.  That no matter how bad it is, it could be SO much worse.  She gave Shelia (the protagonist) so much loving and caring advise in such a subtle and knowledgeable way.  I just wanted to be in Ruth house eating lunch and talking. 

Here is some of Ruth's wonderful wisdom:

"....But I do know if you keep living for other people, you'll never find out. (p. 241, MacMunn).  This is Ruth's advise to Sheila regarding the direction Sheila's life should go.  For some reason  it really stuck a chord with me.  


'The miracle will happen when you start  moving toward it.  It won't just be laid at your feet, Shelia.  You have to work for it one step at a time.  And steps don't even have to be perfect. You just have to take the action and learn from it. You do that and one day you'll realize you're in the middle of your miracle," Ruth said. (p. 283, MacMunn) .  Isn't she a gem!!!

Well besides Ruth, here are some other noteworthy points about Finding Out....
2.  The novel was written amazingly. 
3.  The novel has a simple yet PERFECT cover.
4. We can hope that MacMunn has more brilliant stories to share with the world.
5.  It is a MUST read and a great book club pick.  
6. After writing this review I realize I need to change my 4 star review to a 5 star!!!!
7.  Read this book!  

Q. What inspires your writing? 
I get inspired by stories that revolve around friendships, especially women’s friendships because they are often complex.  I am also inspired by stories that show women facing adversity with strength and dignity. Although I enjoy a good love story, some of the ways that women are portrayed turn me off. Like a woman running away with a new boyfriend or turning into an emotional mess instead of fixing problems on her own.  When it’s written as comedy, I enjoy it. When it’s fiction, I often can’t relate because I know many women who have to handle tough situations without falling apart – even if we want to.

Q. What is your favorite thing about being an author?  
My favorite thing about being an author is creating a whole new world of people, places, and situations and living in that space while the story plays out. While writing Finding Out, I would finish a scene and be startled to find that I was sitting in my kitchen and not in Germany or New York!

Q. What is the toughest part of being an author? 
Writing is a solitary activity and my least favorite thing is editing. It takes a village to properly edit a book because people see things differently. One person may provide great insight while another points out scenes that don’t work well. I was lucky to find my extraordinary editor, Merry Hayes, who tied up all the loose ends and grammatical mistakes. It was then that I realized how critical an editor is to the writing process.

Q. If you could not be author, what would you do/be? I would be in ad sales, which I am!

Q. What would the story of your life be entitled? 
The One That Got Away

Q. What is your favorite book of all time?  
Gone With The Wind. I read it every ten years. Because the story encompasses life, war and love, my attitude toward the story changes every time I read it. The love stories take on new meaning from when I read it at 14, 24, 34, and after being married. I used to think Scarlett was wonderful and Melanie was the fool. Now I see how wonderful Melanie is and how Scarlett is impetuous. Also, the effects on war take on meaning as I’ve grown and have children of my own.

Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like? That is a tough one. I really relate with Scarlett O’Hara because she has such a high drive to be self-sufficient and everyone relies on her. She’s a tough cookie but she is impetuous and emotional which I’m not. 

Q. What character from all of your book are you most like?  
I am most like Sheila because I was single into my mid-thirties and had to support myself while living in NYC. Some readers get upset with Sheila because she appears weak in the beginning of the novel. It’s when her strength shows through, that people really cheer her on. Sheila has a quiet inner strength that she has to ‘find out’.

Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?  
Great question! I would love to spend a weekend vacation inside of ‘The Other Boleyn Girl’ by Philippa Gregory. I am fascinated by all things English, especially the time of King Henry VIII. It would be fascinating to go back in time and spend a weekend at King Henry VIII’s court – though I’d like to return with my head intact.

Q. What is your favorite season?  
My favorite season is fall because it signifies new beginnings. I always liked going back to school to see friends and learn new things as well as school shopping. When fall comes around I feel that anything is possible which excites me.
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?  
The design came from my fabulous, English husband. I had a vision of a red sofa because my grandmother’s red sofa was the last thing that I saw in her house when she was alive. It also served as the inspiration for Ruth’s sofa that Sheila sits on during their visits.  My husband found the photo and took care of the rest. He has a great eye and I am forever grateful because quite a few people have complimented his work.

Q. Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book.  
I was speaking to a group of women about Finding Out and when I mentioned the character of Ruth, a woman’s phone rang. She was embarrassed and turned it off. When the conversation returned to Ruth, her phone rang again which embarrassed her again because she swore she turned it off. Her ringtone was the Star Spangled Banner which was appropriate considering we were discussing WWII. It was funny and also eerie, as if my friend Ruth wanted to be part of the conversation!

Q. Are you working on something new?  
I have four outlines for novels right now. My very next project is a sequel to Finding Out. So many people have written asking to know more about Ruth’s life and wanting answers to some of the mysteries in the novel. After thinking it over and writing a few outlines, I decided that I would have that as my next project. So far, response from my inside circle has been very positive so I’m excited.

Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?  
If you are looking for inspiration for a book, don’t dismiss anybody’s story. Listen closely and read novels because you can find inspiration and guidance in the strangest places.

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