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Alison's Automotive Repair Manual: A Novel
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Alison's Automotive Repair Manual: A Novel

3.15  ·  Rating Details ·  91 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews

A widow in her mid-thirties, Alison has been mourning for two years. Now living in small town West Virginia with her sister Sarah and brother-in-law Bill, Alison is unable to move on with her life. Finally, she promises Sarah and Bill that she will start over---once she restores the abandoned, nearly ruined 1976 Corvette she found rusting in the garage and immediately love
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 11th 2004 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published November 7th 2002)
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Aug 14, 2010 Phair rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not at all what I expected. Rather than being chick-lit or a romance, this turned out to be a great read about loss, friendship, truth, belief and personal growth. Loved the format with each chapter relating to a section of an automotive repair manual. For a male author I thought the female pov was very well done. I read very little contemporary fiction but this one was great.
Feb 14, 2017 Erin rated it it was ok
I found the characters so unlikable I could barely finish. The protagonist's husband died so she spends two years mooching off of her sister and refusing to get on with her life. What a society we live in where people can indulge themselves in this way! The guy she is dating is a selfish prick who wants to revenge some old hurts from his father and uses Alison to do it.

Pushing a car into a lake is terrible for the environment. What did she think would happen to the chemicals in the car? And dri
Julian Froment
Oct 05, 2013 Julian Froment rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
I really enjoyed reading this book. This book was a relatively easy read, holding the readers interest and attention right to the end. I found myself wanting to know how things turned out between the main character Alison and the Corvette, Max, and the townsfolk. In some instances these relationships were resolved, but in others the reader was left to keep guessing. I would have liked a clean resolution to the relationship between Alison and Max, but this was left for the reader to decide.

It was
Sep 04, 2013 Pamela rated it liked it
This is a novel about a grieving widow, Alison, that has yet to move on with her life two years after the death of her husband. She has abandoned her house, her career, and any responsibility for herself. She has moved in with her sister and brother in law; living in a small West Virginia town.

Alison decides that she will begin trying to heal her life by healing (rebuilding) an old, rusted out Corvette she finds in her sister's garage. Each step in her repair of the Corvette parallels her small
Feb 11, 2017 Gaenor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting concept with the Haynes manual references! Nice easy read with a twist at the end
May 30, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
needed to read a book that I had never heard of, to give myself a break from all the big name classic authors and novels – things you “HAVE TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE” sort of thing. I was pleasantly surprised with this story. It dealt with both death (Alison’s husband, the deaths in the book, the revelation of Mr. Kesler’s false past) and life (Sarah and Bill trying to conceive, the Corvette’s restoration, Lem and Pammy) and even eternity (the evangelical car parts salesman). And the thing is, thes ...more
Sep 27, 2013 Amodini rated it liked it
Full review here.

I’m quite impressed that Barkley manages to write from a woman’s point of view so well; if I hadn’t know that the author was a man, I would have guessed quite the opposite. There is humor in this book, and hopelessness and grief – it all seems very relatable; they are people like us. However I didn’t always connect with Alison, though I sympathized with her. The book moved at a very, very slow pace for me, although to be fair, for this genre, it might not have worked as well as
May 29, 2009 Crystal rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 23, 2014 Hope rated it really liked it
This was one of those books I picked up at a library sale, mostly because I was intrigued by the title. It was a great surprise, as I did not expect a male author to show such insight into his female main character.

Alison is a young widow who starts working on a dead Corvette in her brother-in-law's garage to avoid facing the ruins of her life. Her terrible secret is that she is mourning not just her husband, dead from a freak accident in a home workshop, but the dying marriage she will never ha
Jan 31, 2013 Cindy rated it liked it
When I picked this up (intrigued by the title), I thought it would be a chick lit book, an easy read after Gone with the Wind. It drew me in with the characters. The group of senior citizens who meet every week for dance classes, the brother in law who does the craziest things for a baby, the munitions man who brings a little romance, and the sister who is just a bit cynical, and finally, Alison.

As Alison decides to fix up a Corvette that isn't worth the time or money, she learns a lot about he
Dec 27, 2007 Pamela rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bonnie, Liz, Kate
Recommended to Pamela by: Carl
It took me a while to get into this book, but after getting past the first three chapters, I was hooked. The book follows a woman in her thirties who has recently lost her husband, whom she realizes she didn't completely love, to a terrible accident. She resolves to fix-up a terribly run-down Corvette...almost as a process of grieving and recovery. I learned that if we aren't really truly living an honest life, it's really not worth living. This book delves into the affect lies and honesty have ...more
Mar 24, 2009 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance
I didn't really mean to start reading this, but got drawn in. Alison is a widow who is having trouble moving on with her life, and begins renovating a rusty old Corvette as a way of putting off more fundamental repairs to her world--which of course she ends up undertaking after all. Although the metaphor is perhaps a little too obvious, the writing is excellent, the observations on life are nicely formulated, and the characters are interesting enough to keep the reader's attention to the end.
Oct 03, 2007 Stephanie rated it liked it
I'm always impressed by male authors who write books with female main characters, and this book is no exception. The story of a woman trying to come to terms with her life after the death of her husband is sweet and poignant but also a little gritty. Once I got through the first three pages, I had a hard time putting this book down.
Oct 10, 2014 Edie rated it did not like it
A book supposedly about a women recovering from loss was all about an old dude's ego and his ~~damaged~~ son. So boring, so over it, so glad I only paid $1 at the used book store for this. It went into the recycling when I finished so others could be spared this atrocity.
Jun 19, 2008 Dianne rated it liked it
This book was ok. I was surprised a male author took on writing from the perspective of a grieving woman, but he did ok with it. I couldn't identify or sympathize with the main character and I didn't want to be her, so the story didn't engage me.
Jun 26, 2010 Kara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a very satisfying read...the last sentence will leave you smiling.
Apr 15, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
This book was nice and entertaining. It was interesting to have a man write from a woman's point of view. It was also empowering to read. It made me feel that I could do anything I put my mind to.
Ronald C.
Feb 22, 2016 Ronald C. rated it liked it
This is an interesting low key read. The book focus is on how we live our lives and how we see ourselves and those around us.
Jun 11, 2010 Katelyn rated it liked it
Pretty routine - Broken person becomes attached to broken thing (in this case, a car) and proceeds to fix the thing as a metaphor for their life.
Rachel rated it did not like it
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BRAD BARKLEY, a native of North Carolina, is the author of the novel, Money, Love, a Barnes and Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection and a "BookSense 76" choice. Money, Love was named one of the best books of 2000 by the Washington Post and the Library Journal. His novel Alison's Automotive Repair Manual was also a "BookSense 76" selection. His short fiction has appeared in over two dozen ...more
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