Friday, July 9, 2010

a review of "Lumby on the Air" [51]

Lumby on the Air by Gail Fraser
New American Library, ISBN 978-0451230041
July 6, 2010, Paperback, 496 pages

Summer is here, the time for family reunions and county fairs, and those returning for the fifth in this series, set in the Pacific Northwest town of Lumby, will be taking part in both.

Pam and Mark Walker, the owners of the Montis Inn, are about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and have planned to renew their vows after spending a week with their gathered family members. It will be a gathering for better or worse, because no family is without their conflicts. First, there is Mark's sister Lynn, who he has not spoken to years. Then there are Patrick and Elaine, whose teenage daughter, Mark and Pam's niece, is ranting about being dragged to this reunion on every available social network and chat room she can find on her computer and laptop and Blackberry. And then there is Marks' sister Nancy, whose husband Carter, a radio host with a multi-million person audience, has taken over the inn to broadcast his radio show live, spewing out some quite disparaging opinions about the little town of Lumby. Throw in a millionaire developer who has his eye on a huge chunk of land just outside of town for a ski resort that will forever change the face of the charming little town and not everything will be going totally smoothly.

On top of all this, Mark has decided to enter all sorts of events at the fair that he has no experience at, like carving with a chainsaw, and leading a bull through an obstacle course. Let's just say most bulls are not really into be led anywhere. Does anyone have a first aid kit? And Pam's widowed mother Kay has come to visit, with a 'friend' her daughter is rather shocked to meet.

As I said, this is the fifth book in the series..and I have not read the previous four. While I don't think it is totally necessary to read the books in order, since the author gives us a brief outline of the required background of the main characters, I think it might help one's enjoyment of the book. Maybe that is what accounts for my inability to really identify with them..that or the fact that several of them are more like broad caricatures than real people. Fraser wants to paint a picture of this rather idyllic place, where the people are good, if slightly quirky, neighbors and where people band together to help each other.
"Pam's voice went up an octave. "But don't you think we each have a responsibility to each other?"
"Would that be a financial, moral or social responsibility?" Carter said sarcastically.
"All of the above!" she argued. "Our town is defined by how we treat each other. And it's that sense of responsibility that lies at the heart of our community."
To do so, Fraser paints in broad stokes, where the good are very good and the bad are annoying and quite unlikable...until they hopefully are won over by the 'magic' of Lumby.

Then there is the character of Hank..a pink, plastic flamingo...
"Although many of the carnival rides would be arriving the next day, the huge Ferris wheel, aptly named The Air, had already been assembled. The operating crew of three was just beginning to go through the long engineering checklist before they ran their first test. One of the operators had climbed up the frame of the ride and was swinging from a roped harness, trying to replace burned out lightbulbs among those that outlined the massive wheel. From all appearances, the worker was engaged in a serious conversation with Hank, the town’s mascot, a plastic pink flamingo who was perched in the highest basket of the Ferris wheel, eating popcorn and sipping from a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade."
See, he is plastic..and eats popcorn and drinks lemonade. OK...I am sorry, but I just didn't get Hank.

On the plus side, Lumby on the Air, will no doubt appeal to fans of the previous books. Lumby is a pleasant place to visit for a light, fun, summer read, the sort of place where we would love to spend some time if such a place really existed. The town of Mayberry may come to mind. The illustrations, by Art Poulin, who also happens to be Fraser's husband, are charming. If you are looking for a nice beach or hammock read, and can just relax your tight hold on reality just a little bit, this might be a series that would interest you. The dramas are small, the pace is easy and the reader has a feeling that, in the end, all will work out for the best.

My thanks to Caitlin at FSB Associates for an ARC of this book.

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