Monday, June 24, 2013

Tall Pine Polka by Lorna Landvik

I read Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons ages ago and enjoyed it so when I saw this one at our library book fair I figured I'd give it a try.  Like the previous one it is set in Minnesota and includes a whole bunch of characters.  The main ones are Lee O'Leary - the owner of Cup O'Delight - the town coffeeshop and main hangout for the group of friends, Slim Knutson - a Vietnam war vet who works for Lee and suffers from PTSD, Fenny Ness - who works in one of the stores in town and seems content to stay in Tall Pine forever and Big Bill - who is half Hawaiian, half Native American and after being raised in Hawaii comes to Minnesota.

The main plot line is that a movie is going to be filmed in their small town of Tall Pine and when the writer, Christian Freed, is in town scouting locations he sees Fenny and ask her to do a screen test to be the leading lady.  After much debate she flys to LA for the test, and gets the job.  Because the movie is being made in such a small town, everyone ends up getting involved in some way or another, and they usually end up back at the Cup O'Delight to talk about it all.  

Along with the foursome mentioned above the regulars at the Cup O'Delight include an older lesbian couple - Miss Penk and Frau Katte (Miss Penk is the town's only black citizen and Frau Katte is from Switzerland), Mary Gore (who fancies herself a poet but doesn't have any talent and the rest of the bunch all make fun of her) Pete (the local shoemaker (who has a couple of sweet secrets).

Then there are the "Hollywood" characters - Harry Freed (the producer who spends most of the time in LA but is still an important part of the story), Christian Freed (the writer is trying very hard to make it big in Hollywood), Boyd Burch (the lead actor in the movie) Malcolm Edgely (the tyrannical director) and Grace Aisles (a supporting actress who becomes close friends with Fenny

It's a fun book with lots of great characters who are all very well developed.  No one really feels like a minor character cause you get to know them so well. 

While maybe not a traditional summer read (since it takes place mostly in the fall and winter of Minnesota) I would recommend it. As the author says in the interview in the back of my copy, "i prefer character-driven novels, especially when they take you on big, full rides" and she definitely delilvered that with this book 

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