Publication Date: February 21, 2013
In Looking for La La by Ellie Campbell, Cathy O’Farrell’s husband, Declan, receives a saucy postcard from the mysterious La La, Cathy is thrilled. Not seriously suspecting that her husband is having an affair, Cathy and her friend Raz start an investigation aided in part by the Tuesday Twice Monthly, a tight-knit group of local moms. Soon the notes turn sinister and Cathy notices a red estate car following her. Is this mystery perhaps more than she bargained for?
Ellie Campbell is the pseudonym of sisters Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell. Looking for La La is their third novel as a writing team.
I received a copy of this novel from the authors in exchange for my review.
Looking for La La was inspired when Pam Burks’s husband received postcards from a mystery admirer, and the story that built is astounding. I certainly hope that poor Pam did not travel Cathy’s path to find the culprit. Campbell’s writing style is seamless with humor reminiscent of “Shirley Valentine.” Cathy is a very real character, warts and all. She is a stay-at-home mom who feels undervalued and a prisoner in her role who is desperately afraid to leave her jail. Her children are in school, and she spends her days chasing after something she’s not quite reaching. Cathy fears Declan’s inevitable discussions of a return-to-work but sees herself as his employee at home rather than his wife. Cathy’s last job interview before pregnancy and marriage to Declan was with the company for which her future husband worked. The interview went horribly. She ran out followed by her would-be employer and future husband without returning to the work force again. She reminds me at the start of the novel a lot of a woman I once knew who grew tired of going to school and didn’t want to work so decided to get married. It didn’t work well as a plan for the woman I know, and it doesn’t seem to work so well for harmony in Cathy’s home.
There are a lot of catty women in Looking for La La and while I’m not usually a fan of catty women as they always seem to be written as evil without purpose, the women in this story are very real. Not everyone in a group of friends like each other, and they’ll be civil when with the key person in order to jockey for preferred friend position, but civil doesn’t mean nice. Raz is being pulled by two worlds. On the one hand, she has her professional friend and on the other hand, Cathy. Neither Cathy or the other woman like each other and their byplay is hilarious. The conflicts with each other make these women simply a lot of fun to read. On the one hand, she has her professional friend and on the other hand, Cathy.
Campbell infuses a subplot of mystery which involves a beloved teacher who is struck down in a hit-and-run accident. There are little references in the story line of her until the ultimate demise and the tie-in, and when it comes, it is inspired. I did not in any way see the ending coming.
Campbell’s writing style reflects the Cathy character perfectly. In flashbacks, we see the Old Cathy. This is a woman who finds grocery lists in shopping carts and purchases items on them to “expand her diet.” She may think she’s changed into a more composed and a matronly sort of woman, but as we follow her on madcap adventures, Cathy proves to be the free spirit and a somewhat airy person she was when she met Declan. Scattered, neurotic and loveable. Those of us who are working moms may roll our eyes at Cathy’s insistence on not working and feeling of betrayal when her fellow moms go back to work, but there is an undercurrent that shows that not even Cathy believes her own arguments as to why she couldn’t work. As Cathy develops as a character, so does our understanding that she doesn’t always quite mean what she says.
I didn’t want to like Cathy when I first met the character. Over the course of the novel, when she gets the postcard, embarks on the investigation and her daily life, I grew to find her enchanting. She was warm and funny. One of her friends tells her that another friend said that she looks like a mature Eva Mendes. Cathy is flattered for a while but then wonders how mature the person thought she looked. The subsequent conversation with the friend was sidesplittingly funny. Cathy could have used a head slap a time or two but who couldn’t? Looking for La La is a wonderfully funny chick-lit read.
Readers will want to take note of the wonderful cover which truly conveys the story within. The plot line and smooth flow are perfect for reading by the pool or on the beach. If you like British humor and quirky characters, you will love Looking for La La.
Read an excerpt and buy Looking for La La by Ellie Campbell on