Sunday, July 7, 2013

ARC Review: Newton Neighbors by Suzy Duffy

Newton Neighbors
Newton Neighbors by Suzy Duffy

Fiction: Contemporary Women
2 out of 5 Stars

Crystal Lake—in the suburbs of Newton—is one of the most desirable places to live in Boston, and Newton Neighbors is a romantic comedy about its colorful residents just trying to “live the dream.”  Things, however, rarely go as planned. The story starts with two fire trucks and a couple of cop cars getting called to the upmarket road, and that’s when things begin to heat up.

The Ladies of the Lake:

Maria’s best asset has always been her hot Puerto Rican body, but she sees the effect a new sitter has on her husband, so she decides to fight back the hands of time.

Cathi is Maria’s best friend and greatest admirer. Her own life is pretty good, too. Still, she can’t help being consumed with ambitions to live on the water. She spirals from persuasion to coercion to deceit faster than you can say ‘change of address,’ but will she succeed?

Noreen may seem like the nice little granny from next door. However, it’s the quiet ones you need to watch.  While facing forty is a nightmare for Maria, Noreen’s living large at eighty. She believes “the only thing worse than a weak dollar is a weak martini.”

Jessica is in America to study. But when she takes a babysitting job in Newton, she gets more than she bargains for in the shape of fine-looking firefighter.  We learn soon enough that not all heroes are good—but is bad better?

Thankfully we have Ely, Jessica’s crazy roommate, who keeps everyone laughing and partying, too.

There’s Botox, Bollinger, and a randy Bulldog. We have fireworks, fistfights, and family fiestas. It’s a story that stretches from Boston, to London, to beautiful Puerto Rico.

Welcome to the wet ‘n’ wild world of Newton Neighbors.

Although chicklit is not a genre I usually gravitate to, the promise of a good read will always trump anything for me. 

It's not exactly the "Real Housewives" type of story that I expected. The characters are like those women I come across, complete with the angst and insecurities that arise at one point or another in their lives. 

It's the little bits of the novel that make it good. Relying on a rubber straightjacket (feels like!) just to look fit in a dress, the "not feeling good/pretty/young" enough moments, male-denial andropose, crazy but brilliant friends that make life interesting. But what hit me was the humor. 

I do like the play on words that Suzy Duffy makes use of. That incident of Bulldog-on-Shih Tzu totally rang a bell. I have a mixed breed myself, my 65lb baby Rottreiver, but that's not what struck a chord. A few years ago a friend reported a ... um ... miracle. She was going to be getting Dalmadogs - a Dalmatian/Daschund hybrid. The kicker was the female was the Dalmatian. I leave the dirty details to your imagination!

My point here is, Suzy Duffy could have taken the details of this novel straight from life. And that is what makes Newton Neighbors light summer reading. 

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

View all my reviews


  1. Hi Ramona... wondering if you enjoyed Newton Neighbors, why only two stars? Just curious and in the meantime, I'm enjoying your blog!

    1. Hi Aunt Ruthie!

      First of all, thanks for dropping us a note and of course for reading our blog! It's a great outlet for our humble opinions and it's nice to see people taking notice.
      Took me a while to answer your question because I was really stumped! How do I scientificalise (hehe, new word!) my highly unscientific method of grading the books I read?

      Let me say, though, that while this book is not the genre I prefer, it is well-written and I admire Suzy Duffy's ability to appeal to a great number of readers.
      That said, there is a method to my admitted madness. The stars I award depend on how much certain things affect me:

      1. How well the book is written. Word choice, grammar, and writing style are foremost for me.

      2. How well I relate to it. I like if I feel I could actually be one of the characters or if some incident happened to me or someone I know.
      3. Predictability. If I know what the ending is going to be or how the plot twists, urgh. I prefer to be surprised.

      4. Pull. If I can't put the book down or better, dream about the story... oh yeah. That's my winner.

      5. The "it." I read and reread a wide range of books and my favourites vary among Greek poetry and drama to Shakespearean comedies (no kidding, I am a true geek) to classic and modern sci-fi/fantasy, cookbooks, agriculture, survival skills, design and arts, romance, erotica, and history. But while they are all different, they have a certain appeal (for me) that will ensure they'll be in my library fifty years from now - and I'll still be reading them.

      IF a book can fulfil all this for me, it gets 5 stars. I am a tough critic but I also appreciate how much tougher it is to be an author and essentially put your soul out there for everyone else to see and take potshots at. I do some writing myself but I don't have the guts these people have to share it! So, my critique is honest and the seeming anomaly of 2 stars is honest as well.

      I do hope this very long explanation answers your question!

      From: Ramona