This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Amanda Keats
The Lion Is In sees three women thrown together in moments of crisis who then find themselves stuck in a small town while they wait for their car to be fixed. These three women are comprised of a kleptomaniac, an alcoholic and a woman fleeing from her husband. They end up working at a bar to earn some money while they wait – a bar that happens to have a lion as the star attraction.
When a book is written by the scriptwriter of You’ve Got Mail, you expect that they would know how to write a great story (well I liked it!) and how to write strong and interesting female leads. Sadly, this is not the case here. For some reason, Ephron decided to keep her leading women’s back stories a secret for a massive chunk of the book, as though adding the mystery element would keep the reader compelled to read on. Sadly, the result is that not one of the characters becomes identifiable as we know so little about them.
Once the story gets going, it becomes interesting enough – the three women are each on the run from something and trying to find meaning in their lives and their arrival in this small, practically desolate town, causes something of a stir. However, the three women are described in so little detail, it actually takes a while before you can fully remember who each of them are. Which one is the one in the wedding dress? Who is the third one who was walking down the road and stumbled across the two women as they tried to figure out what was wrong with the car? It stops being relevant.
The lion itself has more personality than most of the characters and it is his effect on the people around him that makes the book a more interesting read later on. The relationship he develops with Rita and the way she blossoms in his company is certainly more fascinating than any of the relationships between the humans of the story.
The Lion Is In had the potential to be a great story. It has all the brilliant twists and plot points you would expect, a great small town dynamic and three unlikely female leads to drive it on. It’s such a shame then that no time is allocated at the beginning of the book for the reader to get to know these characters. By the time something actually happens to them, it’s hard to care.