Review of The Last Chance Ladies’ Book Club

The Last Chance Ladies’ Book Club

Regina writer Marlis Wesseler is back on the stands with a new novel, The Last
Chance Ladies’ Book Club
. The story takes place
in a retirement/nursing home called Pleasant Manor in a small town relatively handy
to both Prince Albert and Saskatoon. Four women, principal among them Eleanor
Sawchuck, have been reading books on the nature of evil.

One of the women’s daughters gets them a book written by a woman who suffered
horrible abuse at the hands of her father, and then killed herself. Now that man,
aged considerably since the book’s publication, is moving into the manor. The
women are beside themselves about what, and how, to do anything. Do the police
know? Was he ever charged? Should they confront him? Slip notes under his door?
On top of that, a demented woman’s granddaughter whose mother is too sick with
alcoholism to care much starts hanging around the home. Could she be a target?
Talk about a discussion on the nature of evil.

Wesseler doesn’t rush her story, watching the seasons and their flowers,
calmly observing these women’s lives as they deal with encroaching mortality. In fact,
readers could be forgiven for wondering if they’ve given up on their local abuser
completely. But that’s really what the book’s about. From her almost insipid title
to the dully pleasant name of the home, Wesseler constructs a story in which her
characters lull themselves into a state of complacency about the evil right next door.
Yes, they should do something, but what about cards at eight? And what can they
do, anyway?

Then the child goes missing. Wesseler avoids easy answers, finding both the banal
and the shocking in their little dose of evil. It’s a patient examination of how ordinary
people respond to evil in their midst.

— Bill Robertson Saskatoon Star Phoenix

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