Sally Bosco

Author of Dark Fiction

Review: The Chick Palace by Leslie Davis Guccione

The mark of a good book to me is how much it sweeps me up into its world. Leslie Davis Guccione does this powerfully as she brings the people and settings of Lake Allamuchy to life and gives insight into human nature in the process. She brings back memories of the endless summers of youth spent on boats, at lakes, in little cottages. Perhaps she brings back memories we wish we had.

Long time friends, Lily and Johanna, who both find themselves at crossroads in their lives, spend a week at their Lake Allamuchy houses. Johanna’s is a huge house that has been in her family for generations, and Lily’s is a bungalow that she shares on alternate weekends with her ex-ex and his new trophy girlfriend. They both find refuge in each other’s friendship. When Johanna encounters an old summer fling, former lifeguard and “bad boy” Dean, she feels like a teenager again. Lily keeps her grounded throughout the whole experience. Johanna in turn helps her through her crisis with ex-ex. They rename Johanna’s grown son’s tree house “The Chick Palace,” which they use as their home base for camaraderie—morning coffee, evening dinner and margaritas, along with deep discussions.

Sensory details of the lake, the town and the houses are delightful. The writing is overall smooth and graceful, accented by subtle humor. Guccione has a special talent for effortless and natural dialogue.

Having never married or had children, I have little in common with these characters, yet I could relate because the author made them so human with depth of personality and intelligence. I could literally feel Johanna’s elation coupled with misgivings at being reunited with her former summer fling. All characters grow and change over the course of the story, and they have realistic flaws. Even Dean is well-drawn as a three-dimensional character. The two women finally realize how important solid, warm friendship is in getting through the rough spots in life. I think this is the main message of the book and one to which I can definitely relate.

The Chick Palace is a delightful read, and I’d highly recommend it.

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