Helen of Pasadena
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Helen of Pasadena

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  712 ratings  ·  177 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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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.
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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!
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!
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.
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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...more
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
Jennifer Osterman
I received this book though the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I was a little worried that it would be too cutesy, but in fact, I really enjoyed it. The story of Helen finding her way back to herself after the end of her marriage was filled with engaging characters in entertaining situations. I am sure that the Pasadena way of life is well-depicted in this book - and I am also certain that I would have been giving this book even more stars if I was a Pasadena native. There were a few twis...more
Darcy Odden
Loved, loved, loved "Helen of Pasadena." A bit of tragedy (Helen's husband tells her he is leaving her for a young TV weather personality and then is killed in a Rose Parade accident), a bit of humor ("silver lining") and a Nubby Sweater guy –– what more could you want? It was fun to see how Helen morphed from a Pasadena volunteer mom with big bucks into a professional working woman with hardly any bucks and from a "happily" married mom to a hot mama. Her friends, Tina and Candy, are her lifesav...more
Jul 25, 2014 Bren added it
Shelves: owned-books, 2014
My grandma always said we'd be better off living in Altadena. I laughed several times while reading the book. I enjoyed the book and I miss my visits to The Huntington. The story was more a of a 'chick' book than I usually read, yet I enjoy the 'angst' and the archeology story.
This is a little light to just call women's fiction and little too exciting to just be mom-lit, but Helen Fairchild's life and the twists it takes make this an enjoyable read. Helen's husband is killed in a freak accident, involving the Rose Bowl Parade, no less! Helen falls back on her unfinished Classics degree to procure a temporary job with a visiting scholar at the Huntington Library. Dolan gives us what feels like an insider's look at the world of Pasadena, with houses and private schools...more
I got this book for free through Goodreads First Reads. When I read the description I thought it would be an okay chick-lit book that would distract me from the chaos of life... boy was I wrong! I LOVED this book. Though I have never been to Pasadena, Lian Lolan made me feel as if I was able to see into the lives of the characters. I either loved or hated the characters, which means that they were well developed to the point that they could get under my skin. The love story kept me guessing to t...more
Kate L
I do enjoy chic lit, but sometimes, the stories and writing styles bleed together because they can be so similar. What I really enjoyed about Helen of Pasadena was the smart and snappy writing set it apart from the rest of the genre. I love spot on social commentary which isn't so heavy handed with a "know-it-all" vibe. Her insights are always chuckle worthy, and many times, out right laugh-inducing. I absolutely loved this book, and to put a cherry on top, there is a lot of Greek classics conte...more
Tamar Apelian
I enjoyed the book. It was fun reading about the city of Pasadena where it takes place. I was visualizing many of the locations as I read it. Story was enjoyable and loved the characters.
I really enjoyed this book, great protagonist and an all too relatable world. I was rooting for her all the way thru and felt like I went on the emotional journey every but as much as she did. I felt an incredible sense of victory in the end. What a charming read.
The day after her husband tells her that he no longer loves her and plans to divorce her, he is killed in a freak accident. Then Helen has to navigate her way through their messed up finances and fair weather friends to make of live for her son and herself.
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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
More about Lian Dolan...
Elizabeth the First Wife Satellite Sisters' Uncommon Senses

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