Friday, April 29, 2011

Review: Lydia

Lydia (GroVont Trilogy - Book 4) by Tim Sandlin

Publication Date: April 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Pages: Hardcover, 464pp
ISBN-13: 9781402241819
ISBN: 140224181X

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Tim Sandlin on the WEB: website, blog, facebook

Synopsis (Book Jacket):

Managing the Virgin Birth Home for Unwed Mothers means the women in Sam Callahan's life keep his world interesting. But it's his family members that really take the cake. His daughter may be having a nervous breakdown, and his mother's just out of prison for attempting to poison the president's dog. And when they hit the road with a geriatric, an adoptive son trying to discover his parentage, and an enraged psychopath on their tails, all hell may break loose.

Fifteen years ago, Tim Sandlin concluded his "GroVont" trilogy, a string of books that included a New York Times Notable Book and earned such accolades as "funny and compelling" (LA Times), "zany" (Cosmo), and "dazzling and moving" (New York Times). But some characters call a writer back.

Welcome to ribald, rollicking, and sometimes peculiar world of Tim Sandlin's GroVont, Wyoming, where family is always paramount, no matter how strange.


Author Tim Sandlin revisits his 'GroVont' trilogy in his latest book, Lydia. Sandlin fans have waited fifteen years for this book and they won't be disappointed. With his quirky, unpredictable writing style Sandlin once again delights readers with his warped view of the cosmos and those who live in it. Readers will love the off beat characters and zany situations they get themselves into. Sandlin's ability to take and absurd situation and make it plausible is incredible.

Sam Callahan has an interesting vocation as the manager of home for unwed mothers. Surrounded by girls and young women with problems you would think that his job is the most stressful part of his life, not so... The Callahan brood and their friends are more than a little daunting. Sam's daughter, Shannon, may be having a nervous breakdown or she faking it? His girlfriend's adoptive son, Roger was kidnapped and abandoned as a child and is now searching for information about his parents. And Sam's mother Lydia just got out of Federal prison after doing a stint for sending Ronald Regan's dog a poisoned chew toy. As a condition of her release, Lydia is recording the life story of Oly Pedersen, a 99-year-old man with an amazing tale to tell. When she, Oly and Roger set out on a quest to find Roger's parents, they end up with a psychopath on their tale and an adventure of a life time.

Tim Sandlin takes readers back to GroVont, Wyoming in his latest book. He goes back to the eclectic set of characters that brought him success over fifteen years ago. I am always skeptical of writers who can say, "Ok, I'm going to write a trilogy and that's it," because I sometimes think there are more stories to tell about certain characters and Sandlin proves this by going back to the Callahan family once again. Readers who have not read the first three books won't be lost with this one because Sandlin does a great job of getting the reader up to speed. Though, after reading they'll be anxious for more.

Lydia is Sam's mother and though, Sam is the main character, most of the action in the book takes place without his presence. Lydia takes on the primary role. She is a very interesting character. She is getting older now, but still acts like a young girl in her 20's. She's spunky, and quirky and more than a little odd, but that's what makes her so endearing. Sandlin imparts a lot of wisdom through Lydia's character that is subtle, but not easy to forget. Lydia is the type of character that the reader is never really sure what she's going to do or say next. But, she has a way of seeing beauty in the world that will have readers wishing they could be more like her.

Roger's story adds a lot of comic relief to the book. Leroy the man who subsequently kidnapped and then abandoned Roger is now out to kill him or harmony will not return to the universe. Roger is kind of the catalyst for most of the action in the book. He is looking for clues to his parentage and how things could have gotten so out of control and when he enlists Lydia's help on his quest things start to get complicated. Sandlin does a great job with this over-the-top aspect of the story. Who drags along a 99-year-old man on a journey of self-discovery? I liked the way Lydia and Roger interacted with each other as well.

The best part of this book for me was Oly's story. Here is a old man, who has seen a lot in his years and he imparts that knowledge unselfishly and in an in-your-face kind of manner. He was such a great character. I always love to sit around and listen to the stories of the older members of my family and Oly's part of the book was really satisfying from that point of view. So many things have changed and it's amazing to look back at those kinds of changes through the view of a great character.

This is very fast paced, quirky kind of book. It won't appeal to everyone, but it will really resonate with those it does. Sandlin's style is a little hard to get used to in the beginning with the changes in point of view and his chaotic approach. But once the reader figures out how he is going to roll with it, this book will take the reader on a great ride. Sandlin fans will love it! The return to GroVont after so many years is like coming home. I recommend this one to readers who either want to find some unique and different or to those who love unpredictable and spontaneous characters.

Lydia is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

Reviewers have variously compared Tim Sandlin to Jack Kerouac, Tom Robbins, Larry McMurtry, John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, and a few other writers you've probably heard of. He has published nine novels and a book of columns. He wrote eleven screenplays for hire, two of which have been made into movies. He lives with his family in Jackson, Wyoming, where he is director of the Jackson Hole Writers Conference. His "Sandlinistas" follow him at

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