Four women in their 30s, some sexy books, secret key necklaces, and a rollicking adventure through relationships and life. Lisi Harrison, yes the author of the beloved Clique books, gives it all in her latest book: Dirty Book Club. No, it’s not the same story as Book Club, in theaters now, but it’s definitely more relatable to a younger audience and also features 50 Shades of Grey without idolizing it.
MJ is a magazine editor in NYC, living it up, when a sudden shift in the wind in her sails sends her to Pearl Beach, California, a tiny beach town where she meets her eccentric new neighbor Gloria Golden. But before they can even finish a bottle of wine Gloria’s husband is dead and she’s jetting off to Paris with her girlfriends. But she leaves MJ a gift: a new social life and three new friends, her own Dirty Book Club, complete with pre-planned reads, initiation rituals, and letters from the past that are somehow so poignant in the present. That’s how MJ meets Jules, a Christian event planner who’s husband is nowhere to be found, Britt, a mom of twins with a pot-head husband, and Addie, a sex-positive woman who is looking for anything but commitment. Through their intertwining lives, the books they read, and the wine they drink, they become friends, confidants, and more. It’s a touching book on friendship and womanhood without being too raunchy or too sentimental.
I liked this book because it felt like a Lisi Harrison style book with plot twists (affairs!) and couplings up and arguments and word play but also felt a little more grown up. They’re having sex and they’re thinking about jobs and relationships and what it does to kids, etc. It felt real in that way, but still fun because there was this conceit of the book club that knitted the story together even if it got forgotten often along the way. The passing of time in this book wasn’t as consistent as I would have liked considering each chapter was dated, but I appreciated the help in tracking major deadlines (like flights) for MJ and her boyfriend, Dan, which was a fun little plot line to try and keep up with. Ultimately, I really liked the ending but maybe because that’s probably going to be me in like ten years (but with a cat) but who knows?
Overall, this is a fun stand-alone read that helped me get out of my reading slump and reminded me how much I enjoy Lisi Harrison books. If I didn’t have a TBR stack taller than me, I’d probably just spend the next week rereading the entire Clique series, which I’m proud to own entirely.