THE LADIES' ROOM - Carolyn Brown
Avalon Books
ISBN: 978-0-8034-7602-8
October 2011
Contemporary Fiction/Romance

Tishomingo , Oklahoma - Present Day

On the day of her Great-Aunt Gert's funeral, Trudy Williams's world is upended.  She's just about to leave a stall in the ladies' room when her cousins, Marty and Betsy, enter and start talking.  After some comments about Aunt Gert and what they might inherit, the cousins start in on “Poor Trudy”, and now Trudy is truly unable to leave.  What she learns, though, shatters her life.  Not only has her grown daughter, Crystal, apparently married a man that Trudy has never met, but Trudy's husband, Drew, has been cheating on her since the beginning of their twenty-year marriage.  It seems that everyone in their small town is aware of Drew's infidelity except “frumpy” Trudy, who lets everyone walk all over her.

The reading of Gert's will is another revelation for Trudy, as she learns that Gert left her the home that has been in the family for generations.  On the heels of hearing of her husband's betrayal, Trudy decides to move into Gert's house—after cleaning out the joint accounts she has with Drew.  When she shows up at the house, Trudy finds out that Gert had made arrangements with her next-door-neighbor, Billy Ray Tucker, to remodel the house if Trudy moves in.  Trudy and Billy Ray graduated together, and though she's known him all her life, Trudy comes to understand that she really doesn't know him at all.

Of all the unlikely places for your life to begin anew, THE LADIES' ROOM has to lead the list.  Trudy has been a good wife for twenty years, oblivious to her husband's cheating and with blinders on as far as her daughter is concerned.  From the moment she learns of her inheritance, though, she is determined to live life on her own terms, not caring what anyone thinks.  The house has been neglected for about fifty years and is need of work from top to bottom; there are very few electrical outlets, the bathroom fixtures are falling apart, and there's no central air.  While contracting out some of these projects, Trudy decides to help Billy Lee with some of the other repairs and remodeling.  As they bring the old house back to its former glory, Trudy is going through a transformation of her own.  While initially fueled by her anger, she realizes that she enjoys being her own person and is learning new things about herself every day.  Billy Lee accepts her unconditionally, not judging her when everyone in town things she's crazy.  He becomes her best friend, and later, so much more.  But does he feel the same way, or is he just being neighborly?

By turns funny and poignant, THE LADIES' ROOM is a charming story sure to bring a smile to your face.

Jennifer Bishop