Synopsis from the Publisher
Valencia, a timid debt collector with crippling OCD, is afraid of many things, but the two that scare her most are flying and turning thirty-five. To confront those fears, Valencia’s therapist suggests that she fly somewhere—anywhere—before her upcoming birthday. And as Valencia begins a telephone romance with a man from New York, she suddenly has a destination in mind. There’s only one problem—he might not actually exist.
Mrs. Valentine is an eccentric old woman desperate for company, be it from neighbors, telemarketers, or even the funeral director (when you’re her age, you go to a lot of funerals). So she’s thrilled when the new cleaning girl provides a listening ear for her life’s story—a tale of storybook love and incredible adventures around the world with her husband before his mysterious and sudden disappearance.
The stories of Valencia and Mrs. Valentine may at first appear to have nothing in common…but then again, nothing in life is as straightforward as it seems.
For a book that peels back the layers beneath mental health disorders, I was fascinated by the plot and its presentation and where the story seemed to be headed. As easy as it was to get interested in the story, there appeared to be a real mystery unravelling on the pages. Early on, one of the characters admits to having killed someone but doesn’t give much other information so it is easy to get consumed with trying to figure out the details of the crime and whether her odd behavior was borne from guilt or whether she is living a secret identity. The two narratives seem to be connected in that the two characters’ names are related (Valencia and Mrs. Valentine) and both have an unnatural obsession with death, but the chapter headings don’t give anything away and the only way to know more is to keep turning the pages.
Even the side characters are odd but also very charming and lovable in their eccentricities and while I tried to piece the dual storylines together, I found myself simultaneously sympathizing with them for their strange habits and hoping they’d overcome their mental issues. While their behaviors provided excellent fodder for my reading entertainment, author Suzy Krause did a great job of personalizing these characters and making me relate to them like real people who I wanted to see get well and overcome their shackles.
The quirky habits of these main characters remind me of Eleanor (from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman), Don Tillman (from The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion) and Bernadette (from Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple), all of which are characters dealing with obsessive personalities in books that I absolutely enjoyed.
Valencia and Valentine was no exception and I highly recommend this one for the zany characters and the way the novel keeps you guessing until the very last pages.
- Title: Valencia and Valentine
- Author: Suzy Krause
- Format: Hardcover
- Pages: 244
- Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
- Publication Date: May 1, 2019
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of Valencia and Valentine in order to complete this review but that did not change my opinion of the book. Thanks to Lake Union Publishingand TLC Book Tours for providing the opportunity to read a book that felt like it was chosen exactly for me to enjoy.