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Book Review: Leftovers: A Novel by Arthur Wooten

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Take a trip back to the mid-1950s and meet New England’s Vivian Lawson Hayes. She’s an heiress, young, newly married, and despite a history of crushing baggage, dreams of an idyllic post-war life with the husband she thinks she’s in love with, a life that includes big house, nice clothes, obedient children, and all the pomp and circumstance she can endure.

But wait. The picture is not as storybook perfect as she would like us to believe. Vivian’s husband is a policeman who is cold and never at home. Money is tight. Conceiving is not in the cards.

As Vivian plans an anniversary celebration, her dirty dog of a husband Paul decides (after much philandering) to leave his fragile wife.

Penniless and without life skills, Vivian loses her mind — and the electricity, food, and the house. She can’t find a job in her tiny Massachussetts town, and asking her cold and unemotional mother for money is out of the question.

Destitute and homeless, Vivian lands with her best friend, Babs and Babs’s brother, Stew, who has been harboring a crush on our girl Viv.

Babs and Stew turn Vivian on to the most innovative invention since sliced bread: Tupperware. They have been doing Tupperware parties in their spare time. Despite Vivian’s initial resistance to peddling plastic containers, she gives it a spin (what else can she do? She’s broke!) and finds out that she and Tupperware are a perfect fit.

In fact, the little mousy misfit is so good at the Tupperware model, she rises quickly up the ranks — so quickly, she temporarily blows off her good friends.

Arthur Wooten’s campy novel is a pleasant trip back down the garden path to a time where a good majority of life was simpler. It’s not all fairy tale, however. The author does a fine job of examining the cracks in the most sublime pre-Camelot facade.

He captures the essence of the time and the characters, and we’re left cheering for Vivian to rise above her challenges.

Friendship, love, empowerment, Leftovers has it all. And it is scheduled for release April 15, 2012.

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About Joanne Huspek

I write. I read. I garden. I cook. I eat. And I love to talk about all of the above.