Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer

As soon as I started Sarah Strohmeyer's Kindred Spirits, I thought, here we go again; another novel about a group of women, and a friend that died of cancer. And, I was right. For a while, I felt as if I was reading a story I'd read before. But, somewhere in the middle, Strohmeyer's characters grabbed on to me, and I found myself crying in parts of the story. There's nothing really new in this book. However, it has that message about friendship and life that bears repeating, "It's the journey, not the destination."

Lynne Flannery endured cancer treatments for eight years before finally giving up and committing suicide. When she died, she left behind a husband, two sons, and three friends. Beth, Carol, and Mary Kay had bonded with Lynne years earlier, drinking martinis after a bad PTA meeting. Their friendship grew into the Ladies Society for the Conservation of Martinis. And, then Lynne had one last request for her friends. Find the daughter she gave up for adoption when she was just a teenager, a child none of her friends knew she had.

Their trip on Lynne's behalf was only a four-day drive around Connecticut. But, the women had the time to examine problems in their lives and make some decisions, while mourning and celebrating Lynne's life. There are marital issues, lies, family issues to clear up. As I said before, there's really nothing special about the women or the trip. In fact, the large quantities of martinis seem a little ghoulish at times. But, some of the comments about family connections, mothers and daughters, hit home.

Don't read Sarah Strohmeyer's novel expecting anything unusual. However, Kindred Spirits provides another opportunity for women to examine their lives, and their friendships. In the end, these women's novels celebrate us; our lives, our families, our mothers, our sisters, and our friendships. Kindred Spirits is one more story showing how strong women are, and how our friendships enable us to be strong. It's worth reading to celebrate us.

Sarah Strohmeyer's website is

Kindred Spirits by Sarah Strohmeyer. Dutton. ©2011. ISBN 9780525952220 (hardcover), 304p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The author sent me an Advanced Copy, hoping I would review it.


Sarah Strohmeyer said...

Thanks very much for this review, Lesa. It's very honest and I really appreciate that. You're right about a lot of books out there focusing on women and cancer. (What does that say about the current state of our environment?) But I suppose we all feel our story is unique, which is why I wrote KINDRED SPIRITS.
My friend's bravery and humor were so moving as she fought to stay alive that I was inspired to put it down on paper. Then again, that's yet one more cruel twist to cancer, how it seems unique at the moment and turns out to be rather ordinary at the end.
It was such a relief to write a happy, light YA book after this....!

Lesa said...

Hi Sarah,

I imagine it was a relief to write a happy book after this one.

No, having lost my husband to cancer just over a year ago, I know every struggle is unique. You're totally right with that, Sarah. There's a reason I keep reading all these books.

Liz said...

Have recently had breast cancer. Doing well, in part by sharing w/ other survivors through Wellness House of Annapolis, which offers a warm environment for cancer survivors, their families, and their caregivers to share experiences. No one can go through the experience w/o support.

WHA is considering a book club, and I compiled a list of books, primarily novels, w/ a cancer theme. So many. And Kindred Spirits will be added. Thanks.

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Liz. I'm glad I reviewed it, even if the only reason is to add it to your list. Good luck, and I hope everything continues to go well with you. I know I needed my friends when my husband learned he had cancer.

Liz said...

Thank you. I am sorry for your loss.

Sarah Strohmeyer said...

I had no idea, Lesa! I'm so sorry...I probably wouldn't have sent you this book if I'd known!
Liz - good luck with your recovery. I am surrounded by women who are breast cancer survivors of all ages and backgrounds. There is so much hope!
My friend, Trish, had a very unusual and lethal form of cancer. The night before she died - Christmas Eve - what did she do? Had the book group over for its usual monthly meeting. That was Trish!

Ingrid King said...

This sounds like a tough, but good read. I'm adding it to my list.

I think it does say a lot about the world we live in that there are so many books with this theme. And maybe it's a combination of fiding support in someone else's story, and a "there but for the Grace of God" feeling, that makes them so popular.

Lesa said...

No, Sarah. I've still read a number of books, and in one of them recently, the best part was that the character died of the same type of cancer my husband had. Jim went within a couple weeks of diagnosis, so I learned more from reading the book than I knew at the time. So, don't feel bad that you sent me the book. That had nothing to do with my review.

Lesa said...

Yes, Ingrid. The interesting thing is I read them for the women's friendship, no matter what brings them together. But, they also are very supportive books.

Liz said...

The books can be instructive too, on how to be supportive of friends who are sick and families and caregivers who are struggling.

Sarah Strohmeyer said...

I didn't mean to imply that it would have affected your review, just that it would have been HARD to review. That sounds so tough, Lesa. A few weeks after diagnosis. Wow. Trish lingered for 6 years. It was always a ray of hope - a new treatment on the horizon, stellar numbers - battling crashing disappointments. I know she got more time, but it was no picnic.

London Escort Service said...

Its nice to step into the warm circle of friendship that books like this offer unabashedly to their readers. It's nice....especially if you have no immediate group of intimate friends at your disposal. (I mean in my virtual friends are another story altogether. ^_^) The bonds of friendship (both good and bad) create a work of living art to be cherished by all parties (and envied by others)...and so it is here in this stunning tale of resilience laid bare before us by true friends in every sense of the word.

Lesa said...

For us, Sarah, this really was the best. Jim really knew he had no hope, and it made it much easier to say goodbye to people, and to be prepared. He wouldn't have wanted to linger. We both understood this was the best way for him to go.

Lesa said...

You're right, London ES. Sometimes those friendships in books become so important. It's nice to experience them.

Phantom Paragrapher said...

Ive just finished this book and I loved it :) I love all those sisterhood type novels. Im a new follower BTW Totally awesome that Sarah herself commented on your review :) I loved her book The Cinderella Pact which is what made me decide to read this one.
Cheers. Paula