Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lola's Secret: Review and Giveaway

Move over, Miss Jean Brodie!  At the age of 84,  Lola Quinlan may be in the prime of her life.

I've just read Lola's Secret by Monica McInerney, which was published in 2012, a sequel to the popular novel, The Alphabet Sisters.  The second book is set is South Australia, and starts right before the holidays.  Lola surprises her family by insisting that they spend Christmas away from her and the Valley View Motel in Clare this year.

I certainly don't want to spoil the secret (or secrets) of the novel, but I'll tell you a few things about the main character, the Irish-born matriarch Lola Quinlan (who's still trying to get used to Australia's intense heat).  This book is a real treat--in many ways--and it's because of Lola.  (L-O-L-A!)  She's a very engaging, funny, flawed (just a bit) and altogether irresistible protagonist, who's in her 80's but is decidedly young-at-heart, and always, it seems, up to some sort of mischief.  I adored her character, and the fact that she bashes many stereotypes about older people.  Lola's Secret focuses on relationships and connections with others, including those made on the internet.  Lola's pretty adept with computers and her "mobile" (as they are called in Australia). 

"The truth was, she wanted to get into her computer before her shift was over.  It was two days since she had a chance to check her emails and she was getting twitchy."
 ~Lola's Secret, Monica McInerney

She's not retiring but is like an actress, dressing in a unique and zany way, and completing her outfits with bright lipstick.  She helps run the family's Valley View Motel, volunteers at a thrift shop with other ladies, and cares very much about her family, which now includes great-grandchildren.

Instead of a litany of complaints, Lola has ample spunk and energy, and tries to live each day to the fullest, fueled by imagination, zest, and reflection.  Lola's supporting cast is composed of family (Jim, Glenn, Ellen, Anna, Bett, Carrie, and others), prospective motel guests (Neil, Helen, Tony, Martha, Holly, Chloe, Belle), and friends (such as Luke and Margaret); their stories are ingeniously tied into the main character's.  Lola's character truly sparkled for me.  In fact, she deserves an Emmy.  

If a unique Christmas story with a saucy and appealing protagonist sounds like your cup of tea, then I have good news for you.  Random House is generously offering a copy of Lola's Secret to one of my readers (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For one more chance, name a book with an older protagonist that you've read and enjoyed. 

Enter by 5 PM PST on Monday, November 19.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, November 20. 

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me this book.  My version included wonderful extras at the end: an interview with the author about the book, as well as the first chapter of The Alphabet Sisters, the prequel to this charming novel (Lola's Secret is a "spin-off" from that book).  To read more reviews, please visit the other stops on TLC's book tour for Lola's Secret


  1. I think I'd like this character, too. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Great review, Suko! As you know, I loved Lola, too. She has spunk. I really want to read The Alphabet Sisters, now.

  3. I agree with you on your review. The book's titular character, Lola, totally had me loving the book from the get-go!

  4. This sounds like a fun read, and Lola's character sounds great! Nice review Suko :)

  5. This sounds really good. Great review!

  6. I think I would have liked this one more if I had read The Alphabet Sisters first :(
    Suko, you won the copy of Jamie Oliver's Great Britain from my website, Peppermint, PhD, :) Will you email me your email and address so I can forward it to the publisher?

    1. Peppermint Ph.D., I do want to read The Alphabet Sisters now, having met them in this book.

      I'm absolutely thrilled to have won Jamie Oliver's new cookbook on your blog! THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I'll email you right away! Yippee!!

  7. How nice that this story celebrates an elderly woman who helps others with her energy, enthusiasm and good attitude. Spread the word, there's no better way to live :)

  8. This sounds like a fun read. I love elderly protagonists, especially quirky ones.

  9. thanks for this great giveaway. It sounds wonderful. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  10. This delightful novel would be enjoyed greatly. thanks.

  11. This sounds good and a nice cover too!

  12. I remember reading The Alphabet Sisters so may well give this one a go. Thanks as always for a great review. Though unable to enter the giveaway I don't think you can beat Ninny Threadgoode of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe for a wonderful older protagonist.

  13. I just saw this in Bookfool's blog as well; let me tell you, the older I get the more I appreciate a spunky, saucy "old girl". I suspect I am one. ;)

  14. Lola in her 80s sounds like a most intriguing character for a book. Enjoyed your review.

  15. Now I have that Kinks song going through my head!

  16. The Alphabet Sisters sounds so familiar to me. I'm thinking that I read that one pre-blogging but I can't remember for sure. This sounds like a really good read so I'll definitely check it out at some point :)

  17. Lola sounds MUCH more fun than Jean Brodie, that's for sure!

    Thanks for being on the tour.

  18. Ooooh great giveaway, thanks


  19. Lola sounds like a lot of fun! I posted the giveaway in the sidebar of my blog.

    The older I get the more I seem to be reading books with older protagonists. Walter's Muse and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry were two good ones I read this year.

  20. Lola is a pip, isn't she? I enjoyed this one too and have had The Alphabet Sisters on my shelf for ages so I might need to get to it and visit Lola again.

  21. Please enter me.
    I am an email subscriber.
    mce1011 AT aol DOT com

  22. thanks for the giveaway. im a gfc follower


  23. I really love a protagonist who possesses such gusto! I am a new follower of your blog!


    Shirley @ My Bookshelf
    The End of Your Life Book Club Teaser Tuesday

  24. wish I knew a Lola like that - regnod(at)yahoo(d0t)com


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