(Reviewed by JD Jung)
Fifty-something year old Margo Just seems to be running in circles; or should I say, remaining stagnant. She just can’t accept or face her past, which includes family and romantic relationships.
However, Margo is finally forced to face her family when she is invited to her niece Georgia’s wedding in Malibu, California. What this New Yorker is dreading is seeing her older half-sister Charlotte, a wealthy film producer. Both are daughters of a famous screenwriter of the 1940’s and 1950’s, though Charlotte (Georgia’s mother) is the only one with any money. Anyway, Margo hopes that her old buddies, those gin martinis, will get her through the event.
No such luck. Georgia stands up her fiancé, Tully, at the altar and runs off to Palm Springs with her girlfriends. In the process she lifts some valuable items from her mother. Charlotte offers Margo fifty thousand dollars to find Georgia and return her daughter and the “stuff”. Normally Margo wouldn’t want to get involved, but she desperately needs the money.
Margo and Tully set off to Palm Springs in her late father’s 1955 MG, but wind up on a cross country road trip through a whirlwind of mad escapades. All of this brings back memories of her old fiance, another part of her debilitating past.
Margo meets so many interesting personalities along the way. I would say “eccentric”, but are they really? These supporting characters come back later to play significant roles. There is also a bit of old Hollywood cultural history that adds color to the story.
The Bette Davis Club is a definite page-turner , but the fun doesn’t interfere with the thoughtful themes such as denial, sexuality and addiction. Author Jane Lotter maintains a balance of poignancy and humor. Needless to say, I just couldn’t put this book down.
Though the destination is just as satisfying as the ride, I would have loved a sequel. However, Jane Lotter who loved “…all things Bette Davis and road trips” died right after completing The Bette Davis Club. Her daughter, Tessa Marts writes a touching forward.
So you ask, “What is the Bette Davis Club?” You’ll never guess, and I’ll just say that it has many members. You’ll just have to read the book.
We can all identify with being “stuck” at some point in our lives. The Bette Davis Club gives us a means to laugh and reflect at the same time. Readers won’t be disappointed.