Toni Pike: Linda’s Midlife Crisis

I am used to associating Toni Pike’s writing with crime and thrillers, not this delightful modern feel-good women’s fiction and so it was a surprise for me to see it on her post.  

The first part of the novel is about Linda’s marriage to Ron, a horrible man.

He was the sort of person who brought joy whenever he departed, a feeling of peace and freedom that lasted until the moment of his return.

Ron is constantly criticizing Linda, especially her weight, treats her like his servant and is often going out at night coming home smelling of alcohol. Linda stays in the marriage because she doesn’t know what else to do and likes her home when her husband is at work or playing golf. As much as Linda is the glass half full type of person Ron is eternally pessimistic.

Aside from her marriage, Linda also hates teaching although there was a time when it was her passion but things have changed.

She had once been a great teacher, popular with students and respected by other staff members. Every year, a little gloss had been wiped away and now only a dull, rusted undercoat was left. It was so hard to look forward to a day at school when a riot could break out at any moment and every lesson was like trying to tame a herd of wild beasts.

Linda has a breakdown (or perhaps a breakthrough). She spends a great deal of her time in bed eating chocolates and gaining weight something which Ron doesn’t let her forget.  

If you’re not better tomorrow, then I’m leaving. I’m not taking care of an invalid for the rest of my life. There’s nothing wrong with you, apart from being too fat and too lazy to go to work.

When Linda doesn’t change Ron asks for a divorce and off Linda goes gaining enthusiasm, energy and the will to take care of herself.

The remainder of the novel is sweet and reminiscent of the Television show I used to watch as a kid: Leave it to Beaver. It has that kind, family feel to it. Beneath her submission towards Ron, Linda is a very astute woman who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Her character adds a fun, easy relaxing and pleasant read.

We see Linda thrive through the obligations of life: getting a house ready to sell. Finding an apartment. Moving to a different city, closer to her sister. Quitting her job. Finding work in fashion. Taking care of herself. Embarking on a new and loving relationship and writing.

Linda was an English teacher who once loved to write, but life with Ron had dulled her inspiration and melted the muse.

The book also contains some heartwarming sentences:

… your heart matches your lovely face. Said by new boyfriend, Dennis.

Linda uses her struggles with weight to write inspiring articles for The Canberra News Magazine which motivates her in setting goals for her own weight loss program.

She loved trying to write with clarity, transposing the thoughts in her brain to paper and then polishing them carefully.

As the stain of verbal and psychological abuse fades, Linda becomes more confident and someone you’d love to hang out with.

It’s an upbeat novel and Pike shows that there are happy endings even for those in mid-life.

An enjoyable read that is bound to take you out of any morose mood you might be in.