From a roundup published 11/18 in the Honolulu Advertiser, over this next week I’ll include the full text of three books by Hawai`i authors that don’t quite hit the mark, yet don’t miss it entirely either.

The first, Mia King’s foray into simple romantic living.

Reviewed by Christine Thomas

Good Things
By Mia King
Berkley Books; 340 pages; $14

When a person loses everything, one expects her to embark on a path of growth and self-reliance. Big Island resident Mia King’s ambitious protagonist is facing just this sort of transition in every aspect of her life: forty and single, Dierdre just lost her hit Seattle television show, roommate and apartment, and has little money to show for her work, unless you count an expensive car and pairs of Manolo Blahniks. But instead of using this as a platform of independence, Dierdre hides from her peers in a country cabin owned by an attractive man she’s just met.

Echoes of horror film scenarios aside, and even though this relocation inevitably works out well for Dierdre, it has adverse consequences for the novel. For while this story line has the potential to launch an insightful exploration of career change, living simply and autonomy, the narrative often becomes mired in the realm of soap opera, complete with cringeworthy sex scenes, obvious devices, and plot points requiring suspension of disbelief.

Yet despite any judgments one might make about these narrative decisions, or Dierdre’s at first off putting materialism, self-centeredness, and naïveté about the most basic elements of life, King’s lucid prose is the book’s salvation. Thus “Good Things” is able to hold its own as a lighthearted romance about one woman’s transition from corporate fame to a more stable life, even if she doesn’t ever seem to learn from her mistakes.

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