Isabel, June and Kat are all at a crossroads when they are gathered back to the childhood home where each spent an uncomfortable adolescence- a car accident kills both Isabel and June’s parents, and Kat’s father. Kat, Isabel and June are raised by Kat’s mother (their aunt), but Lolly has never been the warm cuddly type and after the accident she is even more taciturn and withdrawn. They muddle their way through grief before being separated in adulthood. Kat wonders what news Lolly has to share that warrants them being called together since their relationships have been strained to the breaking point by misunderstandings, old resentments and guilt. They have maintained separate lives, with minimal contact. Isabel is contemplating the end of a fifteen year relationship, June wants to find an old lover who fathered her son, and Kat would like to escape the shadow of her relationship with her best friend, and the needs of her long widowed mother to find herself. However, in the wake of Lolly’s news they all remain at their childhood home as they to sort out solutions to their problems, and find themselves relying on their impromptu Meryl Street movie club and each other, to find what they need.
The Meryl Streep Movie Club is nothing less than delightful in its ability to transcend the trappings of its particular literary trope – women with contentious relationships drawn back to their childhood homes to repair relationships and confront dire circumstances with their family. March exquisitely imbues her characters with warmth, lively idiosyncrasies, and interests that sustain readers even as they draw close to conclusions which seem inevitable. The novel’s strong and prickly matriarch, Lolly, opens herself to her daughter, and nieces, as she guides her them to healing, greater understanding, and forgiveness through discussion of movies starring her favorite actress, Meryl Streep. The movies are restorative in addressing issues the women are facing, and allowing them to examine attitudes and perspectives different from their own. I found myself looking forward to their talks following the movies, and though some aspects of their discussions are spoilery in nature, they do not deter you from wanting to see them. In fact they piqued my interest in many cases. The book is heartwarming read, and a great choice for discussion with its themes of infidelity, loss, forgiveness. The added bonus is that it serves as a blue print for your own Meryl Streep movie club. Recommended.