"I want to be...a bird who can fly by itself some of the time and know that the rest of the birds aren't too far away, you know?"
Laurie had grown up in a small town in Maine with four brothers, and a great aunt Dot who lived close by. Dot had offered Laurie a quiet refuge whenever Laurie’s raucous brothers became too loud and overwhelming.
"Dot already had a little pot of milk on the stove, and she spooned instant hot cocoa mix into two mugs... then she took a can of whipped cream and... built two little towers of it."
Dot had been the kind of person who never married (by choice), had scads of friends, traveled the world, and enjoyed her life to the fullest. When Laurie is about to turn 40, Dot dies at age 93, and Laurie volunteers to go through Dot's house and belongings, with help from her old friend June and her old flame Nick. Laurie comes upon a Wood Duck decoy hidden in the bottom of Dot's cedar chest, and believes that it was in some way meaningful to Dot. When she hires a "Bereavement Declutterer" named Matt to help her determine if there is anything of value that can be sold, he takes an interest in the decoy. Laurie had been told by an Antiques dealer that it could be worth around $80,000 if it was, as he suspected, made by a famous carver named Carl Kittery. Declutterer Matt offers to have it professionally appraised, and when he brings documents showing the decoy is worthless, Laurie agrees to sell it to him for $50. When Laurie finds out that Matt's documents were forged, June and Nick team up with Laurie, her actor brother Ryan, and Matt's disgruntled assistant Daisy, to solve the duck mystery, and to find a way to get it back.
While they are researching and scheming, nature writer Laurie, who had recently called off her wedding, and librarian Nick who had recently got divorced, rekindle their refreshingly healthy and hot romance. Laurie had ended their relationship when they were in college, because like Dot, she was fiercely independent, and she did not want to stay in her home town. But their current attraction is difficult to ignore, and they decide to explore their feelings while Laurie is in town.
I had loved author Linda Holmes' first novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over, so I was excited to read Flying Solo, her second. Once again, Holmes hits all the right notes with characters that are human and flawed, just trying to figure out their lives, as best they can. Flying Solo is a great summer read, with some unpredictable plot twists, and strong, nonconforming women characters that make you question the assumptions we all make about what happiness looks like.
Hardcover 320 pages, Audiobook 9 hours, wonderfully narrated by Julia Whelan.
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