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Greetings from Somewhere Else    by Monica McInerney order for
Greetings from Somewhere Else
by Monica McInerney
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2009 (2009)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The novels of Monica McInerney (author of The Alphabet Sisters, The Faraday Girls and Upside Down Inside Out, set in Ireland and Australia) are reminding me more and more of those by worldwide favorite Maeve Binchy. Oddly, this idea grew on me as I read the book, only to find a back cover quote comparing McInerney to Binchy.

Greetings from Somewhere Else follows on nicely from Upside Down Inside Out, a witty tale of unfulfilled lives that are ultimately sorted out, with varied misunderstandings and white lies acting as catalysts along the way. It starred Eva Kennedy, who flew to Melbourne to visit her best friend Lainey Byrne, met the love of her life Joseph Wheeler there, and married him back in Ireland (with Lainey as bridesmaid).

It's Lainey who has her overly organized life turned upside down in Greetings from Somewhere Else - and it's long overdue. Workaholic control freak Lainey works for Complete Event Management, has a comfortable relationship with chef Adam (he would probably like more from her) and is close to her family, though worried about her father's poor health and depression since his accident. Her parents need money badly, so it was a godsend that her aunt May left her Irish B&B (located near Tara) to her brother in her will.

Now there's a problem - a provision in the will states that a family member must live at the B&B for a year before Mr. Byrne can inherit. It's quickly decided that Lainey should take on this challenge. Considering Adam, she concludes that it's unfair to have him committed to her for a year of absence and tells him she wants to break up - when he was about to ask her to move in with him on her return. Lainey is left confused, upset - and jealous as well.

In Ireland, nothing is as Lainey expected, except for the friendship and support she receives from Eva and Joseph. The B&B is run down and hasn't had a booking for some time. And she meets an old schoolmate (from the time before her family emigrated to Australia) about whom she starts to fantasize, despite the fact that he has a German girlfriend. Lainey being Lainey, she applies hard work and creativity to sort out the B&B - but her relationship issues take a little longer and require a hard look at her own past behavior.

McInerney injects plenty of humor in her novel, from the giant sausage costumed dancers in the first paragraph to Eva and Joseph's celebrity scam later in the story. It works well, as do her characters, who are as unaffected and natural as your own neighbors or family members. Greetings from Somewhere Else offers a lovely escape, perfect for a beach or hammock read.

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