Mr. & Mrs. American Pie by Juliet McDaniel
Maxine’s husband probably could have timed his announcement that he was leaving her for his young secretary better. Telling Maxine moments before the elite of Palm Springs were joining them for Thanksgiving dinner was a bad idea. After the Thanksgiving that will be talked about for years to come Maxine finds herself divorced and exiled to a condo in Scottsdale. It’s 1969, Maxine has never worked. Besides throwing great dinner parties (that last one aside) and inserting her and her husband into high society she doesn’t really have any skills. Her one major life accomplishment outside of marriage was winning a beauty contest, the contest that her future husband was judging. Maxine figures she just needs another win to turn her life around. Too bad she is now too old to be a beauty queen. That’s when she discovers the Mrs. American Pie pageant. Now all she needs to win is a husband and children. Piece of cake.
It’s rare that I’ll laugh out loud when reading a book in print. This book proved the exception to that rule. The only way to describe Maxine’s meltdown/breakdown over Thanksgiving dinner is epic. I will not be forgetting that scene for a very long time. This woman is a force of nature and those in her way just better watch out.
I loved the period touches like the mirrored wallpaper and how Maxine is so upset with the open floorplan of the condo that she has walls put in because who wants to eat at a dining table and see the living area and kitchen?
The characters are all so memorable and so fully formed, even the youngest members of the cast. Maxine’s fake family she acquires for the contest gives her the family she hasn’t known she always wanted and needed; all four of them are in desperate need of each other and a reliable family. Maxine’s ways aren’t always above board and her parenting skills can be questioned at regular intervals but she is a driven woman determined to get a new tiara. Fans of women’s fiction that need a laugh will find a whole lot to laugh about here.