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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Surprise Packages by Anderson, Littke, and Morris


For those of you who have been anxiously waiting for the third and final installment of The Company of Good Women series, it’s here! Surprise Packages by Nancy Anderson, Lael Littke, and Carroll Hofeling Morris is now available and you won’t be disappointed. Surprise Packages is a little like going to a family reunion. There are those few awkward moments at the beginning, where you’re trying to fit everybody’s names, faces and places together, but once you’ve figured it out the next hours fly by as your caught up in each other’s lives.


Surprise Packages contains a few of those awkward moments in the first handful of pages as the authors tried to reacquaint you with the characters. Every once in a while I’d stumble over a sentence or two that said something current about a character then followed it up with an, “Oh by the way, in case you forgot or didn’t know this is what has happened to them already and where they’re coming from” moment. But once everybody is done saying, “Hi, remember me?” you’ll settle down for a long and rewarding talk with women who are just like the rest of us— struggling and learning their way through life in the best ways they know how.


Willadene (written by Nancy), Erin (written by Carroll), and Juneau (written by Lael) are coming to the last years of their Crusty Old Broads pact. It was interesting and enlightening for me to see them make this final leg of their journey and begin evaluating their lives in terms of accomplished COBhood. They reflect and move forward, piecing together the good, and the not-so-good parts of their lives. These women accept each other as they are and in turn make you feel safe to journey with them from whatever point you happen to be at in your life, without ever feeling preached to or condemned for your own inadequacies. If you treat them as the dear friends the authors are trying to offer you, you’ll find wisdom you can turn to for some of life’s answers that worry us all.


I especially appreciate the philosophy behind this title. Through the character’s own introspection and insights, Surprise Packages explores the way decisions, actions, and inactions, affect the future we are trying to create. They point out that the best way to make any decision is to look toward the future we are aiming for and see how it would affect our course. But even then it’s not always easy to see what will come out of the box when we get further down the road. We can try our best to put the things that matter most to us in the box, wrap and tie it with all the love and knowledge born of our experiences, but ultimately when that package is re-opened, the contents are up to the Lord. Sometimes He lays out our contributions in a nice order and assembles the pieces into great blessings. Sometimes He places a box inside our box and offers us an additional choice, “I know you wanted this, but what would you think of choosing this instead?” And sometimes, it’s just a plain surprise what the elements of our lives can be mixed up to become. All-in-all the greatest message of Surprise Packages is to remember we’re not wrapping our lives up for ourselves only, but the rather, the best choice is to create a life that is as beautiful as we can make it, then hand our wrapped box over to God. He alone can create the sweetest and most valuable surprises from our lives.


After reading Surprise Packages, I would encourage each of you to spend a few minutes to ponder the “Discovery Questions” on the very last page. Take some quiet time and see how you would answer each question; write down what you have learned, what has inspired you, where you have found room for gentle growth. Write it down and perhaps someday someone will be calling you a Crusty (or crazy, your pick) Old Broad, as well.


Thank you Nancy, Lael and Carroll for a very satisfying end to a long journey in The Company of Good Women. I can’t think of better fictional mentors than you have shared with us. It was an awesome journey and the surprises found in Surprise Packages are both comforting and inspiring.


These three lovely ladies will stop by my blog again toward the end of their virtual book tour to answer a few questions. I’m cooking up some goodies, I promise. We’ll enjoy their company on August 22nd. See you then!


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4 comments:

Nancy said...

Alison, Thank you for your insightful comments about Surprise Packages and its message. Even though Deenie is my character, sometimes I think she's wiser than I. I hope to live up to her good example in making and keeping friends. Thanks again for your time and effort on our virtual tour.

Carroll said...

Many thanks for being part of our virtual book tour--it's the first I've been on, and it's soooo cool!

Alison Palmer said...

My Pleasure, Ladies!

Belladonna said...

My favorite part about this book tour is that it is instroducing me to several new blogs that I have not sampled yet. I've enjoyed comparing other people's insights into the book and compare them with my own. I look forward to exploring more of your blog!