I just spent some particularly wonderful hours, reading this contemporary romance by Daria DiGiovanni.
To begin, the heroine, Madeline Rose, is an engaging character. She deals with the same issues most real women deal with at some point or other during the course of an average American, middle class, family oriented, and traditional life.
I myself, though from a blue-collar background rather than an upper middle class family like Maddy’s, have been exposed to many of the same situations portrayed in the novel, albeit second hand, through the eyes of my sister, who dealt with the same sort of dating woes as Maddy, before she married in 1990. These issues, (being stood up by selfish men, insecurity on the dating scene, and worries about weight and self esteem) are portrayed in a realistic manner by DiGiovanni.
The Rose family reminds me of my own; the novel is set in Southeastern Pennsylvania, near my neck of the woods, as well as the Jersey Shore, Philly, and Florida. I loved reading about the family dynamic similar to mine, with Italian food, sisters who share bedrooms, parents who love and protect their children, (sometimes a little too much), and aunts who love to gamble in Atlantic City. Madeline’s Down Syndrome brother and her battle with anxiety were additional themes that spoke to me.
I imagine thousands of other women will relate to Maddy in some way or other; her story is of the American girl next door, only deeper. Cliques, cattiness and backstabbing women are not to be found in Maddy’s world. What we find are love, laughter, family, hard work, professionalism, beautiful clothes, and pop music.
The hero, Ken, Maddy’s true love, comes across as very down to earth, and a bit insecure about his blue-collar roots and upbringing in a Jersey Shore town. The couple’s sweet beginning turns sour after a series of misunderstandings, missed chances, and over-thinking of average situations.
Initially, I was sad. I wanted Maddy and Ken to get married within two years of their initial meeting, have a family, and live happily ever after. But…this was not to be, and that’s what makes the story.
The separate courses these individuals take, their experiences, (good and bad), and the relationships they nurture with their own families and new friends along the way, make for an exciting ending to this charming novel. Ken and Maddy spend long years living separate lives, making their own choices, building careers, and yearning for each other throughout; the happy ending is worth waiting for.
It’s always incredibly gratifying when a reader’s detailed review affirms their attention to detail and their ability to easily connect with the characters, plot and settings of your novel. While its themes are universal, Water Signs seems to evoke palpable nostalgia and emotional responses with readers who’ve lived in Southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and South Florida. And a wonderful review like this keeps me revved up to complete Sea To Shining Sea!