If you haven’t seen The Philadelphia Story stop what you are doing, rent it, and watch it. It’s probably overstating the point to say that until you watch it, you will have been living a partial and colorless life. However, it is definitely on the list of perfect things. You know what I mean, the list that includes the starry sky over the desert, grilled cheese sandwiches, The Great Gatsby, the Chrysler building, Ella Fitzgerald singing “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If You Ain’t Got That Swing),” white peonies and those little sketches of hands by Leonardo da Vinci.
Cornelia Brown recognizes a defining moment when she sees it. Managing a coffee shop, while not on the fast track to a choice career, does give the classic movie loving 30-year-old the opportunity to meet a Cary Grant look-alike. Martin Hobbs looks good, sounds good, and Cornelia is ready and willing to fall in love. Only before she gets the chance Martin brings his mystery daughter to the coffee shop and Cornelia falls in love with her instead. Clare Hobbs has been abandoned by her mother and ignored by her father and has had to deal with more than any 11-year-old should. Martin lets Clare stay with Cornelia and he loses some of his charm.
The chapters alternate between Cornelia and Clare and the two form a strong bond. Cornelia now has a purpose and Clare now has security. I loved Cornelia’s obsession with old classics. Her love of The Philadelphia Story (my favorite) endeared me to her as did her belief that Jimmy Stewart was the perfect man until Cary Grant walked into the room. I wish that the movie love had continued through more of the book. Clare was a brave little girl who seemed wise beyond her years, and maybe she was, but I couldn’t help but love her. Cornelia learned more about herself and love from Clare than she had learned from her life until that point.
The writing was fresh and fun and the story had many unexpected turns. I wasn’t crazy about the end, but it was okay, and I would recommend this book to anyone.
“Heartwarming AND beautifully written.” Soft Drink
“One of my favorite books (the sequel is another hit!)” Colleen