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The small town of Barrington, with its picturesque cottages, breathtaking gardens and friendly neighbors, is very appealing. Things are going swimmingly for Lang Eldridge, an unlikely cancer survivor who is marking the one-year anniversary of her “death sentence.” She spent her supposed final year of life making sure her beloved husband, Jack, could survive without her. A caramel cake is in the freezer for his first birthday without her and love letters for every occasion are carefully written and tied with a pink ribbon. But just as she is packing for their celebratory trip, Jack drops dead on the tennis court. Devastated and reeling from shock, Lang realizes all of her perfect arrangements are in utter disarray.
Devoted to him, she reels from the loss, focusing on her precious granddaughter but struggling with her bossy only child, Teddy, and his aloof girlfriend, Sarah. With her historical family estate in jeopardy, Lang realizes her husband wasn’t as perfect as she thought and the secret he carried to his grave can ruin her life. If she lets it.
Gently seductive, moving and often humorous, Making Arrangements proves an extraordinarily beguiling fictional debut for Robinson. With a theme that naturally leans towards the maudlin, it’s richly layered and purposefully paced. There are laugh out loud moments, and then quiet moments when we’re touched by the enormity of events in Lang’s life. On this level, there’s a duality to Robinson's story as she confidently explores difficult emotions and life decisions but it’s in moments of levity that her novel really connects and illuminates her characters. With a deft narrative and melodious dialogue, she brings them to life. They’re polished, intelligent and well-pitched without feeling overly intrusive and in this way Robinson gets to the crux of Jacks secret and the legacy of his death. Drawing her readers in with a plot that is both well-conceived and intriguing she not only delivers a beautifully crafted story but one which encourages more than just passing reflection along the way. Touching on notes of longing, middle-aged foibles and the realisation that it’s often the unexpected things that are beyond our control which bring us the moments of greatest clarity.
An altogether absorbing read and a highly notable fiction debut, Making Arrangements is likely to have broad appeal and is recommended without reservation.
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Ferris Robinson lives in a beautiful part of East Tennessee with her husband and two dogs. The mother of three grown sons, she delights in the fact that her dogs obey her - more or less.
A former columnist for the Chattanooga Free Press, she is now the editor of the Lookout Mountain Mirror and theSignal Mountain Mirror. Her work has been published numerous times in The Christian Science Monitor and the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She is a columnist at chattanoogan.com.
The author of several cookbooks, including Never Trust a Hungry Cook, which she wrote in college, Simplify Supper and the Gorgeless Gourmet's Cookbook, Ferris was featured on the cover of Woman's World magazine. "Making Arrangements" is her first novel.