I’m new to the novels of Mhairi McFarlane and am definitely captivated. Speaking as a lifelong, voracious reader, what makes McFarlane’s novels stand out are that they not only fulfill my wish for uplifting reads, but also, and quite impressively, they pair a feel-good, laugh-out-loud romantic comedy vibe with an exploration of some very complex and painful issues. Sounds like a difficult feat to pull off, right?
It is, but Mhairi McFarlane does it beautifully and believably. After all, I cannot imagine any real-life happily ever after being attainable without facing some pretty tough and unpleasant truths about ourselves, others, and the choices we make.
Mhairi McFarlane brings her protagonists to a state of deep realization and wish for change, and in so doing, brings them to a well-earned happiness. Sort of like what I get from reading my favorite uplifting, self-revelatory author, Jane Austen. It’s all relatable and resonant. And hugely entertaining.
Who would have thought that the powerhouse creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Catch was an introvert? How could someone who “owns Thursdays” become so overcome with fear at the thought of giving a commencement speech at Dartmouth, her alma mater, or being a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live, that her strongest impulse is to say no?
Except that she doesn’t say no. After years of giving into extreme shyness and its attendant fears of public exposure and ridicule, after years of saying no to everything that would make an introvert shudder, Shonda Rhimes forces herself to say yes. That journey is the essence of her book YEAR OF YES.
With humor, generosity, and tremendous relatability, the author reveals the extent of her terror and how she blasted through it. I am loving this book, which I’m listening to on audiobook, beautifully narrated by the author herself.
Here’s a clip of Shonda Rhimes on the Stephen Colbert show.
I’m looking forward to listening to the rest of the book. As someone who spent her childhood as an extremely shy person (and still sometimes fights those tendencies), I highly recommend YEAR OF YES to anyone who wants to break the cycle of “no” and step outside of their comfort zone.
I’ve decided that the definition of “unputdownable” in the OED should now be “11/22/63 by Stephen King.” I have lost sleep and work time racing through yet savoring every word of this masterfully written time-travel, what-if, alternate-reality tale of a man who travels back through a time-warp/rabbit hole in the back of a diner that lands him in 1958, where he must spend the next five years planning how to thwart the assassination of JFK. On the way, there is more of the past to tamper with, survive, and fall in love with–especially because it is where he meets his soulmate. But nothing is ever easy when it comes to changing the past, no sir. The past will do anything it can to stay put. “The obdurate past,” as King puts it. Indeed.
The past is also “harmonic,” according to 11/22/63. In fact, the act of reading 11/22/63 seems to generate its own harmonies, for as I entered the last third of the novel, an ad for the event series based on the work caught my eye on the Hulu home screen. Now I won’t have to feel as sad as I usually would do upon turning the last page of such an enthralling, mind-expanding read. I’ll have eight episodes to look forward to. Am hoping they do this brilliant work justice.