CALL WAITING
Dianne Blacklock


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St. Martinís Press, Apr 2003
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Chick Lit

Ally teaches high school art when her real talent is for interior decorating. She lives with a real estate agent who doesnít want the home and family she wants. Instead, Bryce wants to turn Ally into another real estate agent. Itís easy to see what Ally is running away from.

Allyís best friend Meg has created for herself the perfect life. She has a rugged, reliable husband who adores her, an active little boy, and so much talent for computer art that her mentor wants to turn her into a company director. She has her life perfectly under control. So what is she doing with a handsome young surfer? And why the loathing in her voice when she says the word "perfect"?

The lives of Ally and Meg take such interesting swings that it is hard to put the book down. It is a bit harder to relate to all their backing and filling. As a much-put-upon friend finally says to Ally, "Grow up!" But fifteen years ago, when I was their age, I hadnít worked this stuff out yet either, and it is exactly the kind of thing a woman needs to understand before she can go after what she really wants. Childhood traumas, personal prejudices, the expectations of others, all create complications in exactly the way Dianne Blacklock shows them doing.

To me, the truly irritating part of CALL WAITING is the willful blindness of these women who canít see what is right for them, when it is in front of their faces. (Probably itís irritating because I was willfully blind myself at that age.) But they are both lucky enough to have very supportive and understanding friends, friends the reader can appreciate more than Ally and Meg can at times, and this gets us all through the book together.

One of the attractions of CALL WAITING is that it is set in Australia. We see a bit of Australian city life, a bit of small town, a bit of culture Ė I even wanted a dictionary for the slang once. It is written in an attractively casual style, easy to read, easily calling up mental pictures. The author is obviously knowledgeable about interior decorating, and just as obviously knows nothing about computer art, so she talks freely about Allyís innovative art and doesnít even attempt to describe Megís work. This is a smart approach on her part because she isnít letting her lack of training interfere with the characters.

I have no qualms about recommending CALL WAITING, especially to women in their thirties who are wondering what they are doing with their lives. Take a look at some of Ally and Megís choices, compare them to your own, see what strikes a chord and do a little fine tuning. More fun than a make-over.

Apr 2003 Review Originally Published by WOR

 

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