This is the story of two women.
One old, one young.
One looking for new adventures. One looking for a purpose.
Both needing a friend.
And this is how, along with two little girls in need of a family, a gorgeous stranger, and a scruffy dog, they bring the whole community together every Saturday morning for love, laughter and a little bit of running…(well, power walking).
Some people come into your life when you need them the most.
Source: NetGalley and One More Chapter Rating: 5/5 stars
If you’ve been with me for a considerable amount of time, you know how I feel about characters. The good ones really drive a book for me, the good ones can also make a lesser quality plot better. However, when a book has both a good plot and good characters, you have writing magic and that’s what I feel like I got with Jules Wake’s The Saturday Morning Park Run.
Claire: In the beginning – well, that sounds very Biblical – Claire is a driven to succeed career woman who won’t let anything, even a little anxiety stop her upwardly mobile movement. As it happens the anxiety is more than a little, and in the blink of eye, she’s placed on medical leave until her anxiety and blood pressure come back under control. With a month of nothing to do, Claire begins her leave in a total funk.
Alice: Alice is Claire’s sister and polar opposite in every way imaginable. Just as Claire begins her medical leave, her sister foists her two small daughters on Claire and expects her to keep them for a week while she trots off to the mountains to a yoga retreat. Though Claire loves her nieces, she feels completely unfit to care for them for an extensive amount of time. Unfortunately, Alice cares nothing for anyone else’s feelings and before she can vehemently object, Claire has two scared little girls staying with her.
Ashwin: Ashwin is, in the beginning, much like Claire. He is upwardly mobile and has no intention of altering his trajectory. Unfortunately, his company has other plans and they do not include Ash. Out of job and totally embarrassed by his situation, Ash retreats to his home and becomes something of a grumpy recluse.
Hilda: If every there were a fictional character I could wish into existence, Hilda would be that character! From start to finish, Hilda is really the character running the whole show. Her enthusiasm for life, her sneaky ability to manipulate others into doing her bidding, and her clear and sure focus is such a wonderfully delightful mix.
With Claire and Ash’s respective worlds in utter chaos, they need focus and a goal, and that is where the utterly delightful Hilda comes into play. By chance, both Claire and Ash meet Hilda in the park and within days, she has them back to being physically active and dancing to her music. The tune Hilda is playing comes in the form of a Saturday Morning Park run, a way to bring the community together, promote health and fitness, and encourage overall support and camaraderie. The deeper Claire and Ash get into the planning, the more important the event becomes to each of them. What’s more, each finally begins to see that there is something far greater in and to life than a non-stop work schedule and an upwardly mobile trajectory.
The Bottom Line: Far and away, the best character in this book and glue that binds everyone together is the indomitable Hilda. Hilda is kind, generous, wise, and loving, and with her guidance, Claire, Ash and the girls all realize that family is often more than just a blood tie. There is such a wonderful sense of community and spirit of friendship in this book that really resonates. While reading I found I was particularly drawn to the age discrepancies between all the characters; this really is a multi-generation read and it works every so well with the characters and the plot. In all, an excellent and spirited read that kept me turning pages from the very beginning.