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Helen of Pasadena

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  939 ratings  ·  200 reviews
This laugh-out-loud funny novel about a mom reinventing herself was written by Lian Dolan, who is a Satellite Sister, writes the nationally popular blog the Chaos Chronicles, and produces the hot Chaos Chronicles podcast. She's a sharp and funny speaker who is much in demand.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 15th 2010 by Prospect Park Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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3.5. Another of those books that nearly made it to really liked it, but fell just a bit short. I loved the story of Helen's remaking of herself, after her rotten husband died leaving her with no money, no job and a son to take care of. They were just starting a displaced homemaker's course in the B.O.C.E.S. where I taught GED classes when we moved away from Ithaca (New York) - I think it would have been a very different type of woman using the services though, somehow! If the mothers in the scho ...more
Esther Bradley-detally
A romp through a segment of life I don't participate in but am aware of. Funny and very good when you are feeling under the weather, and need to tromp through giggles and follies and foibles, and some right on perceptions about a city, it's private schools. I had no idea people spent $300 for haircuts. Know people who grew up in that environment and breaking away. It's insular, but the author doesn't condemn, but shows the quirkiness and humaneness of us all.
I have listened to Lian on the radio with her sisters, on the Satellite Sisters podcast and on her stand-alone podcast Chaos Chronicles and as others have said, it's hard not to give this book's protagonist (Helen) Lian's voice and experience. From volunteerism to being a boy-mom, to having to budget when the economy was rough, to walking around the Rose Bowl, to marrying a Pasadena boy, to studying the classics, to Korean Day Spas to paninis even, this is a "write what you know" book. I am not ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nora Greaves
Absolutely humorous, engaging, fun chick lit. having grown up (the second half of my childhood) in Pasadena I loved all the tie-ins...Rose Queens, restaurants, the Huntington...awesome. perfect weekend read. looking forward to the trilogy!
Not your standard romance

and you'll be glad. I haven't read the author's biography, but she has to be from Pasadena. I enjoyed every minute of this book.
Helen Fairchild was a model citizen/wife of a wealthy Pasadena businessman. She had a 13 year old son, was a leader in charity work (especially at the Huntington Library) and helped at her son’s private school. Although she played the role well, she was always aware that she did not fit in. Her parents were Hippies living in Oregon. She had grown up in a free-spirited home. School was her anchor. She loved history and archeology. On scholarship she advanced and was working on her PhD thesis when ...more
Kenneth Iltz
Helen Fairchild finds her life turned upside-down after her husband announces that he is leaving her for another woman and then dies the next day in a freak accident during Pasadena's famed Rose Parade. To make matters worse, Helen discovers that they were on the verge of bankruptcy and she's forced to sell their Pasadena home and find a job to pay her son Aiden's private school tuition. But things turn out well. Helen finds employment with Dr. Patrick O'Neill, an archeologist studying the journ ...more
Loved it! I live in Pasadena, (thankfully on the periphery of Helen's world) but I've been here long enough to confirm that Lian Dolan has NAILED our town and its cast of characters. I literally laughed out loud multiple times. I'm also amazed at Dolan's talent for articulating Helen's inner thoughts so perfectly. No matter where you live, you'll get a kick out of recognizing those people that are "players" in all of our lives. A fun, smart and funny read! Didn't want it to end!
I liked this. I liked seeing Helen figure out her life. I liked her friends and her job and most characters got JUST the right amount of depth, which was really nice.

And Candy needs a story! I liked her in Elizabeth the First Wife, so it was great to see her in a bigger role in this book (which actually came first).
Helen's husband Merritt tells her some tragic news, then goes and gets himself killed by a panda. How does Helen rebound from both of these horrible situations? Living in status conscious Pasedena doesn't make things any easier.

While quite predictable (Helen is able to easily sell her house, lands a job where she meets the man of her dreams, and her mother-in-law doesn't turn out to be quite as evil as it seems), it's a pleasant, light read.
Claire Lyman
I think this is what qualifies as "upmarket commercial women's fiction" - or so I'm telling myself, since "I don't read chick lit".The perfect book for travelling and post travel jetlag - in many ways predictable (with the exception of one subplot twist which massively stretched believability) and cheesy in places but fun - and better written and more intelligent than a lot of chick lit. Certainly did not expect to cry!
5 star chic- lit, reflecting life in part of my community. If this book were a chocolate milkshake, I have gotten an ice cream headache from devouring it so fast. Great insight into using your internal voice for many thoughts, like navigating school politics and the required boundary between being friends with your kids and parenting them.
An easy, light read. I like the author's style of writing and her sense of humor. I enjoyed the plot although predictable. Despite a few inaccuracies, i enjoyed all the references to my home town of Pasadena. I would recommend this book and plan to read her new book, "The First Wife" which actually came out today on iBooks!
Kim Howard
Lian Dolan's Helen of Pasadena is a light hearted story told with humor. I enjoyed the characters (well written) and the storyline (perfect pitch of real and over the top). if you are looking for uncomplicated and fun, then this one's for you. Three and a half stars and well recommended.
Entertaining chick-lit. At first, I felt like I needed to wear a hard hat to protect myself from all the Pasadena, California name dropping. Where the names real? Fictional? I have no idea and don't care. I am positive though that I didn't need to know the name of every single street, shop and taco cart. I'm sure it was fun if you live in that area but for the rest of us potential readers, it was too much.

The good news is that the flood of name dropping slowed to a reasonable amount and the book
Funny, charming, entertaining... and did I say funny? Lian Dolan hilariously sends up modern upper-middle-class society in this saga of a Pasadena mom whose life gets turned upside down. Women's fiction at its smartest and finest.
I admit it...I liked it a lot.
Older characters, smart, funny, refreshing.
Wish she would write more.
This was an easy and fun read (and is a "must read" if you live in or around Pasadena)!
4.5 stars

I listen to Lian's weekly podcast, The Chaos Chronicles and to her and her sisters' podcast, The Satellite Sisters. I wouldn't have picked up this book to read except that I really enjoy Lian's take on the world and she's like a virtual friend who speaks to me via my ipod regularly while I'm in the trenches of housework and running the kid-taxi-service. It was impossible for me to read this book without giving Helen Lian’s voice. (Which was a good fit for the character, in my opinion, a
Andrea Love
Very fun debut novel from Lian Dolan exploring, in part, what happens when the lives of the rich fall apart. Helen traded in her hippie roots for stability and security. In exchange, she abandoned her Master's thesis and became an uber-mom, on every committee, private schooling for her son, activities galore, and an in with the movers and shakers of Pasadena. This all comes to an end when her husband is run over during the Rose Parade just after admitting his unfaithfulness and his plans to leav ...more
When Helen's husband is killed in a run-in with a parade float, she faces a new reality as a single mother forced to sell her home and look for a job, all the while trying to cope with the loss of everything she thought she knew about her life and her marriage.

Though the plot sounds like a standard chicklit offering, this book manages to steer a course as straight fiction. Helen is a wonderful character- well written and easy to relate to as a reader. She manages her situation as best she can a
Helen Fairchild’s life of prestige and privilege is turned upside-down when her husband, Merrit, is killed in a freak accident at the Rose Parade. Of course, her life was about to change because that morning, her husband told her he was leaving her for a local TV news reporter. His death – the result of a text message to the mistress during the parade that caused him to lose control and run into a panda float.

So, now Helen and her teenage son, Aiden, must carry on without him. But Helen soon lea
A fun, quick read about Helen, whose position in status-conscious Pasadena society crumbles when her husband is run over by a Rose Bowl float, leaving her in debt. There are the expected chick-lit elements of re-evaluation of priorities, descriptions of clothing and events, and a new romance, but this was elevated by the exploration of Helen’s return to the workforce after being a stay-at-home mom for 15 years – and it was especially interesting because when she got married, she abandoned academ ...more
Feb 14, 2011 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Sarah McBride
I don't know why I try to tell myself that I don't really read chick lit. These books are like static cling-on, somehow I find one in my hand and before I know it, I've read it in one sitting and entertained myself thoroughly.

Helen of Pasadena is no different. I'm curious about Pasadena because I have friends and family who live there, and like many, I love Huntington Gardens; Their collection of manuscripts is fabulous, particularly if you are a reader! They also have a very, very good gift sh
Carol Foisset
Fun, witty, a great summer read. I had never heard of Lian Dolan and the Satellite Sisters when I heard her speak at Sunriver Books in Oregon. She was hilarious! When she started talking about the book, I was hooked. It is set in Pasadena (I grew up nearby) and am familiar with The Huntington Library, The Rose Parade, and Vroman's Bookstore. I loved reading about these old haunts, but it gets even better - the main character was raised in Central Oregon (where I live now!). So all of her pokes a ...more
OK. Here we go. Chic lit.

I found the book engaging, a fast read that held my attention. I suspect the book will have/has a small target audience. Pasadena matrons that are familiar with the local private schools, volunteering and fund raising in Pasadena, and folks who are familiar with Pasadena history and landmarks. I can relate to all of that to a degree, being born and raised in Pasadena and being fairly familiar with the general ambiance of the book. I liked it and look forward to part two
Kim Howard
Enjoyable and Fun Read

Liane Dolan's Helen of Pasadena is a light hearted story told with humor. I enjoyed the characters (well written) and the storyline (perfect pitch of real and over the top). If you are looking for uncomplicated and fun, then this one's for you. Three and a half stars and well recommended.
Anita Johnson
This was surprisingly terrific. Helen comes from Sisters, Oregon, the daughter of hippie artists. She studied archeology at Berkley where she dropped out to marry the wealth Merrit Fairchild of Pasadena. Helen is a planner and loved living a structured, almost perfect life for 15 years. Then life comes crashing in on her and her son and the adventure of starting over begins. The author,Lean Dolan, has a great sense of humor and does a wonderful job of showing a real person's observations and rea ...more
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Lian Dolan is a writer, producer and broadcaster. She is the author of two bestselling novels, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife. Both are romantic comedies with a touch of history. She currently writes and produces the weekly podcast and blog The Chaos Chronicles, a humorous look at modern motherhood, that was developed for TV . A decade ago, Lian created Satellite Sisters, an award- ...more
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