If you want a book that is genuinely going to make you smile this summer, then you could do a lot worse than purchasing or borrowing The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms. It’s a total enjoyment fest! I had never heard of Kelly Harms, but by chance came across her whilst on the dreaded Amazon, buying Child Number One an emergency scrapbook for a homework assignment. As is so often the way with me, I fell down a rabbit hole reading about who she was and how she had been a professional editor for a large publishing house prior to becoming a novelist in her own right. If she knew what the market wanted, thought I, what would she produce?
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler tells the charming story of single mother – yes, you’ve guessed it – Amy Byler. She’s a librarian, raising two great kids in Pennsylvania. When her ex-husband reappears on the scene after an absence of three years, wanting to reconnect with the children, Amy is offered the opportunity to take a long deserved break. Being responsible to a fault, she books herself into a professional development conference in New York, where she can stay with her old college friend Talia. Naturally, as is the way with all good escapist novels, Talia is no average friend. She happens to be the editor of Pure Beautiful magazine and takes the opportunity to revamp Amy’s look and indeed her life, in a very Devil Wears Prada kind of way.
By chance, this is the third book this month that I’ve read about a middle aged woman and mother of two having her life turned on its head. Perhaps it’s some kind of portent? Whilst I promise that this isn’t a theme that I’m looking to pursue, this book in particular provides an escapist fantasy that may be tangible in a way that Paris By The Book is simply not. Harms’ idea of the “Momspringa” where a mother gets to go away for a few days or weeks, to pursue whatever she fancies, is a lovely one and frankly should be part of every marriage contract.
Whether it’s a city break or a beach holiday for you this year, try taking the lovely character of Amy Byler with you.