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The Last Time I Was Me

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I wrapped up my grandmother's tea cup collection and my mother's china, then grabbed a violin I'd hidden way back in my closet that made me cry, a gold necklace with a dolphin that my father gave me two weeks before he died of a heart attack when I was twelve and, at midnight, with that moon as bright as the blazes, I left Chicago. When Jeanne Stewart stops at The Opera Man's Cafe in Weltana, Oregon, to eat pancakes for the first time in twelve years, she has no idea she's also about to order up a whole new future. It's been barely a week since she succumbed to a spectacularly public nervous breakdown in front of hundreds of the nation's most important advertising and PR people. Jeanne certainly had her reasons--her mother's recent death, the discovery that her boyfriend had been sleeping with a dozen other women, and the assault charges that resulted when Jeanne retaliated in a creative way against him, involving condoms and peanut oil.

Now, en route to her brother's house in Portland, Jeanne impulsively decides to spend some time in picturesque Weltana. Staying at a B&B run by the eccentric, endearing Rosvita, she meets a circle of quirky new friends at her court-ordered Anger Management classes. Like Jeanne, all of them are trying to become better, braver versions of themselves. Yet the most surprising discoveries are still to come--a good man who steadily makes his way into her heart and a dilapidated house that with love and care might be transformed into something wholly her own, just like the new life she is slowly building, piece by piece.

As heartfelt as it is hilarious, The Last Time I Was Me is a warm, wise novel about breaking down, opening up, and finally letting go of everything we thought we should be, in order to claim the life that has been waiting all along.

405 pages, Paperback

First published May 1, 2008

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About the author

Cathy Lamb

24 books1,516 followers
Cathy Lamb was born in Newport Beach, California. As a child, she mastered the art of skateboarding, catching butterflies in bottles, and riding her bike with no hands. When she was 10, her parents moved her, two sisters, a brother, and two poorly behaved dogs to Oregon before she could fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a surfer bum.

She then embarked on her notable academic career where she earned good grades now and then, spent a great deal of time daydreaming, ran wild with a number of friends, and landed on the newspaper staff in high school. When she saw her byline above an article about people making out in the hallways of the high school, she knew she had found her true calling.

After two years of partying at the University of Oregon, she settled down for the next three years and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, and became a fourth grade teacher. It was difficult for her to become proper and conservative but she threw out her red cowboy boots and persevered. She had no choice. She had to eat, and health insurance is expensive.

She met her husband on a blind date. A mutual friend who was an undercover vice cop busting drug dealers set them up. It was love at third sight.

Teaching children about the Oregon Trail and multiplication facts amused her until she became so gigantically pregnant with twins she looked like a small cow and could barely walk. With a three year old at home, she decided it was time to make a graceful exit and waddle on out. She left school one day and never went back. She likes to think her students missed her.

When Cathy was no longer smothered in diapers and pacifiers, she took a turn onto the hazardous road of freelance writing and wrote almost 200 articles on homes, home décor, people and fashion for a local newspaper. As she is not fashionable and can hardly stand to shop, it was an eye opener for her to find that some women actually do obsess about what to wear. She also learned it would probably be more relaxing to slam a hammer against one’s forehead than engage in a large and costly home remodeling project.

Cathy suffers from, “I Would Rather Play Than Work Disease” which prevents her from getting much work done unless she has a threatening deadline. She likes to hang with family and friends, walk, eat chocolate, camp, travel, and is slightly obsessive about the types of books she reads. She also likes to be left alone a lot so she can hear all the odd characters in her head talk to each other and then transfer that oddness to paper. The characters usually don’t start to talk until 10:00 at night, however, so she is often up ‘til 2:00 in the morning with them. That is her excuse for being cranky.

She adores her children and husband, except when he refuses to take his dirty shoes off and walks on the carpet. She will ski because her children insist, but she secretly doesn’t like it at all. Too cold and she falls all the time.

She is currently working on her next book and isn’t sleeping much.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 643 reviews
July 23, 2016
4 ★'s

I've had this one on my TBR list forever and was happy to finally get to it...even if it's a little different.

Jeanne's life has had quite the upheaval in the last few months and she decides to start somewhere new. She intends to make it all the way to Portland, Oregon where her brother lives but she stops in a small town about an hour away and falls in love with it.

This book is classified as more of a woman's fiction genre with a little romance. Unfortunately, I didn't know that and while I enjoyed the book, I really could've done with more romance. But Jeanne is fierce and she draws you in.

Gradually, we find out what's been going on...or not...in Jeanne's life for the last twelve years after a tragedy happened. She never really dealt with her feelings and instead stuffed them deep inside. However, due to recent events and having to attend anger management classes, everything's coming out.

And Jeanne's not in a good place for a long time but things start looking up when she literally runs into Jay. She basically lays out her life to him, the good and the bad, and they share a real connection. Luckily, that connection's about to become much stronger.

description

Jeanne's a lot to take in...she's bold and brass, tells it like it is, has a big time shoe addiction, is dealing with an alcohol addiction and is essentially a very sad and lonely person. It's not pretty but it was somewhat rewarding to read about the journey she takes.

And did I say she was funny? She really has the greatest lines but my all time favs were her fear of going over bridges and what she perceived to be down in the water. Killed. Me. Every. Time.

Naturally, I wanted more deets on her and Jay. They seem really great together and I loved how it affected both of them...something about a man tearing up just really gets to me.

There are several very colorful people we get to meet as well. From the town people to people from her anger management class, she really develops some long lasting and close friendships. The best were her relationship with her brother, Charlie, and his family....sooo sweet.

The epilogue was amazing...I loved the wrap up with everyone.

Overall, quite an interesting read...a little outside the box for me but I enjoyed it all the same.
Profile Image for Rossy.
219 reviews245 followers
January 25, 2016
The blurb makes you assume this will be a depressing book about a woman who was wronged, which is really not what this book is about. It's about a woman who has a lot grief and has never given herself the chance to do so. Her cheating boyfriend snapped her out of her numbness of it all though, and she now has to find herself. Here is the thing though, her journey is nothing but HILLARIOUS! Do not get me wrong, there are times where i felt her suffering almost as if it was my own. *Total kudos for the author' skills* Still, for the most part i was laughing so hard, i needed breaks for my stomach to stop hurting. I love this heroine and i want my own Jay!

This was my second time reading it, and since the first time i lacked sleep so i barely remember it. I decided to do a re-read.

Five years later and this book still speaks to me! Sure some of the things are unrealistic but so darn funny, I didn't care. For some reason I don't remember the scenes towards the end, so it felt like the story was expanded.
Profile Image for Gail.
Author 9 books37 followers
April 4, 2010
This book is over the top, slightly implausible, uproariously funny and full of quirky, slightly unhinged characters. You root for a happy ending.

Jeanne is an angry, articulate, and in her own words, "slightly unhinged." She is full of grief and anger. She kills her high powered career in advertising with her honest words given at a conference. She sells her spiffy sports car and drives to Oregon. There she stays until she decides whether she would drive her new-old SUV into the Pacific Island. She is being sued because of what she did to her cheating boyfriend. As she goes to anger management classes, finds a job, and gets to know people, she finds friendship, peace, and love.

I read this in one day and laughed myself silly. I was touched and happy with it all the way through. This is the third book I've read by this author and I've loved each one. I'm ready for the next one.....when it's published.
Profile Image for Liz.
30 reviews
December 11, 2011
I did not like this book at all. I read it for my book club and the majority of them enjoyed it, but I thought for realistic fiction it wasn't very realistic. Can you really be involved in a murder plot as fantastical as that and no one gets caught? Or assault someone and have no repercussions? The anger management aspect of the book was strange to me also. Those characters were odd. I did not like the main character and maybe that is just because I could not relate to her experiences or how she lived her life after a terrible tragedy. I also found the writing style not to my taste at all. Oh well, that is the double edged sword of being in a book club - sometimes when someone suggests a book that you would never have read it turns out to be great, but not always!
Profile Image for Larina.
28 reviews
April 10, 2012
I'm going to have to take anger management classes after reading this book. If you liked this book, you probably don't want to read this review. Seriously! If you haven't read it yet, don't read this review at all because it's full of spoilers.

Let me get this straight: This woman who everyone loves (except for the comic-book super evil bad guys) and thinks is so intelligent and charming and witty and kind and generous and compassionate and liberal becomes the wife of the governor and has to come up with a "platform" and she chooses legal naked river running twice a year, monthly glitter days, twice-monthly bike days in downtown Salem, not having to work on your birthday and literacy? And by literacy, she means going to schools from time to time and reading out loud to the kids and then telling a little girl who liked her shoes that "a woman should always pay attention to her shoes because hip-hoppin' shoes are a sign of a woman living life with a capital L". (It's not about getting a good education, honey. It's all about your footwear.) REALLY?

It didn't occur to her that maybe she should do something to help better the situation for the many, many migrant workers we have in the state of Oregon? No, just go shoot the farmer. You can get away with that because apparently no one will even notice he disappeared suddenly. And his brother will think you're just the cat's pajamas as well and clean everything up and make everything at the farm lovely...because you made an off-the-cuff suggestion. (You're soooo great!) It doesn't matter that she forgot about all the other workers on that farm and the hundreds of other farms in the state and the legal obstacles she was griping about earlier.

It didn't occur to her that maybe she should do something to help better the situation for the minority school children in the state? No, because that guy who was so angry about that is busy planting roses now. Maybe those kids could go plant roses, too?

It didn't occur to her that maybe she should do something to help the homeless and drug-addicted population in Portland (which is huge, by the way)? No, because all you have to do to help those people is take them out to lunch and make them call their mother and then they'll feel good enough (and somehow have enough money) to go out and buy lacy pink bras to impress their new boyfriend, who still wants to punch any man he sees in a bar even though that boyfriend has graduated from anger management art class.

So, all those things that she and her friends were so upset about earlier in the book (when she didn't have much power to do anything about them but could come off as a caring individual, I guess because she couldn't control her anger and mouth) just slip her mind now that she actually has the spotlight, fame and pull to make a difference. Kind of ironic, considering that she began the book by slamming all of her colleagues for being useless.

Now I have to go punch the punching bag I have out in the garage and paint myself and then I'll be good to go have a spa day with my sister-in-law and buy lots and lots of classy, classy shoes!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Janelle.
384 reviews
March 29, 2011
Can't figure out how many stars to give this, perhaps by the end of this review I'll figure it out.

The main character, Jeanne Stewart, is a broken woman who has the most creative smart mouth but also the most shattered of broken hearts. She doesn't take crap from anyone but goes home alone and cries and drinks herself to oblivion every day.

Part of me really likes Jeanne Stewart, she's sassy, smart and not afraid to speak what's on her mind. But then she comes across as a feminist and incredibly sarcastic and pushes and pushes, too much and I'm not sure she is someone I would like. However when you read on and get to know the Jeanne who is incredibly caring and wants to give all her heart to those she loves, even if from a distance, I really start to like her.

There is one portion of the book that is so morally wrong I'm having a hard time accepting it. I won't spoil it but it goes against every moral fiber I have. If I were in that mortiferous situation, I would like to think I would obey what is ethically right. But do you risk so many other lives in the process over fixing something so tremendously evil in the first place?

I understand what it is to feel one thing on the inside but come across completely different on the outside. Jeanne Stewart is really an exaggeration and yet a replica of almost every woman. We are incredibly senstive on the inside but sometimes the things we say and do don't accurately portray our true selves. For that, I applaud the book. Yes, very much over the top at times, farfetched and ridiculous, but the wit and humor and the tears that flowed from reading this book will touch your heart.
Profile Image for Bill.
286 reviews93 followers
March 29, 2015
RANT & RAVE ... RANT & RAVE ... RANT & RAVE ...

First the RAVE. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and fell in love with Jeanne Stewart!

3.5/5 ... I'm rounding up to 4 stars! Delightfully heartwarming, uplifting and humorous read with lots of lmao moments that I so desperately needed after the psychological trauma I endured from my previous read (YOU) and a close encounter with the Big C (oh that gosh darn prostate).

Life has thrown Jeanne Stewart a series of wicked curve balls! Jeanne is the sharp and talented creative director extraordinaire at a hugely successful Chicago advertising firm … until her very public nervous breakdown at an industry conference in front of 834 advertising executives and their staff. The recent loss of her mother to cancer combined with the discovery that her live in boyfriend Jared “Slick Dick” Nunley has been cheating on her with a least a dozen other women during their two year relationship pushed her over the emotional cliff, a precipice that loomed large twelve years earlier when tragedy struck her fledgling family. Everything she ever wanted in life was lost that day twelve years ago. Honestly, she began breaking down then but held off the final crash and burn by numbing herself with very long hours at the advertising agency, lots of alcohol and dating a parade of total losers and misfits.

“But so you are fully informed-my nerves are in tatters; my psyche has been ground to pieces in a mental garbage disposal; and my emotions have been through a meat slicer. I cry easily, although I have made serious efforts not to cry for the last twelve years. I am prone to embarrassing outbursts. I have recently made wild and rash decisions, but have yet to regret any of them. I have found that I have a vindictive and vengeful side and am pleased to welcome it into the fold of my other personality characteristics. I am simply …not together.”

Ha ha ha ... understatement to say the least! Before she packed up all her important belongings, sold her townhouse and all its contents and headed due west to Portland OR and her brother Charlie Mackey, Jeanne avenges Slick Dick’s transgressions with the creative use of condoms, peanut oil and a hot glue gun. No lasting damage but a court date for assault nonetheless. The court orders her to attend anger management classes! Do they have anger management classes in Portland???

On the trek to Portland she stops at The Opera Man’s Café in Weltana OR. She has pancakes for the very first time in twelve years. So begins the healing process, a journey that includes an extended stay at highly eccentric Rosvita DiLorenzo’s B&B with a room overlooking the Salmon River, new friends and some very wacky times in the court ordered anger management classes, justice for victimized migrant workers at Dan “The Migrant Devil” Fakue’s migrant camp, a very close encounter with the Naked Run Man, vindication in a Chicago courtroom of her assault on Slick Dick’s penis, a stint as campaign director for Oregon governor Jay Kendall’s re-election campaign and prospects for the family life she so longed for. Oh the journey starts off rocky enough. Her daily routine included a walk by the river. Walk. Drink. Cry. Pass Out. But things get better.

[Okay ... truth be told my eyes were a bit leaky after the first chapter. I feel sorry for her!]

This is a wonderful story about emotionally breaking down to the core, gaining a better understanding of self and rebuilding a happier and more fulfilling life while letting go of the past without letting go of fond memories of people and places that one holds so dear. Jeanne finally figures out that letting go of emotional anchors of the past does not mean forgetting about the very special people she knew and loved dearly.

I found it very interesting that Jeanne is extraordinarily successful, talented, insightful and extremely wise and offers astute advice about life to others around her but seems blind to her own sage counsel. The story tackles Jeanne’s grief, anger and frustration, her passion for motherhood and a family of her own and issues of feminism and equality in such an entertaining and humorous manner without diminishing the significance of her emotions and feelings. I did mention I loved Jeanne Stewart right?

This was a great read for me and a welcomed break from my heavier, more emotionally disturbing reads of late.

Now my RANT. Goodreads classifies this book as Chick Lit. I so struggle with the genre name Chick Lit. Why that label? Doesn’t that somehow diminish the value and content of the genre I thought?

According to the many online dictionaries, “Chick lit is a genre comprised of books that are mainly written by women for women. The books range from having main characters in their early 20′s to their late 60′s. There is usually a personal, light, and humorous tone to the books. Sometimes they are written in first-person narrative; other time they are written from multiple viewpoints. The plots usually consist of women experiencing usual life issues, such as love, marriage, dating, relationships, friendships, roommates, corporate environments, weight issues, addiction, and much more.”

That sounds like some great subject matter that I find very appealing!

But then I looked up the term Chick and ... “Slang: Often Offensive. A term used to refer to a girl or young woman.” This has been my understanding with the term “chick” when referring to women ... it feels so degrading, demeaning and derogatory.

Anyway, I stayed away for the genre for a very long time because (1) it felt like a man doesn’t belong here and (2) I misinterpreted the genre name to mean something of lesser value, perhaps secondary or tertiary literature because of the Chick label. Seems to me the Chick Lit label narrows the market for these books and limits the sales potential for both publisher and author. But who am I right? Perhaps I’m wearing my naiveté on my sleeves.

Shame on me for making such wild assumptions. Shame on me for judging the genre by its title! Shame, shame, shame! I feel better now ... this opens a whole new literary world for me :) I��m on board!
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,677 reviews919 followers
February 20, 2019
Yeah, I know you are like well this looks like a good book, well it was except for a whole murder subplot that put it in a different category in my mind. It also at times didn't feel realistic with what I would imagine would happen in real life with regards to Jeanne's trial for assault of her ex boyfriend. I think I was highly amused by certain parts of the book and at times thought that Lamb had some bad messaging in here.

"The Last Time I Was Me" follows Jeanne Stewart who packs up her life in Chicago. She has just blown up her career by giving a talk telling the audience that their lives are meaningless she travels west towards the ocean. She has it in her head maybe she is ready to end things, but she stops in at The Opera Man's Cafe in Weltana, Oregon and ends up staying there for days drinking and eating pancakes.

Lamb rolls out Stewart's story slowly. I liked Jeanne a lot, though at times I found her selfish. You read about the fact that she had something horrible happen to her which turned off any thoughts of marriage or children. That her mother was the one light in her life and when she died, things got dimmer. But, I didn't like how Jeanne avoided her brother, his family for years due to her loss. I can't imagine doing that. We also see Jeanne dealing with the ramifications of assaulting her ex-boyfriend (Slick Dick as she calls him) and the realization that he was never the love of her life, but she kept seeing him because it was a way to pass the time.

What was intriguing in this book is that Jeanne is going to anger management training for assaulting her ex and through that she meets a lot of other misfits. And we even get a love story in this one with Jeanne opening herself up to something new.

Jeanne deciding that Weltana is a good place to stay and buying a home that she plans to fix up brings her into contact with some migrant workers that live in the area who are being taken advantage of by the local slumlord who has the workers living in really bad conditions and abuses them in other ways. I don't know how realistic it really is that no one would have reported the guy or that so many in the town would have just watched from afar as it all went on.

The other characters all had quirks. If you have read a Lamb novel before it's a given. So I just rolled with it. I thought Jeanne's romance with the Governor was realistic, but wanted more of it though. It seemed at times that it wasn't that developed.

The writing was good though at times I had a hard time with it. For example, we find out early on there's a murder that Jeanne is involved in and even though I disliked the character and what they did, the whole thing didn't sit well with me. Lamb writing it though that you should be okay with it and trying to make it funny felt a bit off. And the civil trial that Jeanne had to deal with I thought was funny, but once again was highly unrealistic on how a jury would find things in the end. The flow was good though at one point I was wondering how many things were going to get thrown at Jeanne in this one.

The ending I thought was pretty sweet. Jeanne gets a HEA and she even steps up to be more involved in her brother's life.
Profile Image for KCM73.
239 reviews9 followers
June 1, 2009
My mom recommended this book to me and was raving about how good it was to the point that I almost felt like it couldn't live up to the hype. Then I read it and it was SO GREAT. This book is about a woman, Jeanne Stewart, who has a number of bad things happen in her life over a long period of time. She continues to repress her emotions and anger about those things until ultimately she snaps and has a bit of a nervous breakdown (in a hilarious way). The book is about how she begins to put her life back together. Although there are some painful issues that are addressed by the author, she does so in a way that is incredibly humorous and poignant. In the wake of her breakdown, Jeanne is required to attend an anger management class. The scenes of the class are some of the funniest scenes I have read in a book in years and years. In fact, there are many scenes in this book that had me laughing hysterically out loud, even while riding the metro to work. I wish that I was as quick-witted and hilarious as Jeanne is in the book. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves to read and likes books with great character development and humor. I had never read a book by Cathy Lamb before but I will be reading her other book, Julia's Chocolates, immediately and anxiously awaiting her new book, Henri's Sisters, due out in July 2009.
Profile Image for Tattered Cover Book Store.
720 reviews2,109 followers
Read
September 7, 2009
Jackie says:

Oh, the smart-a%% in me fell in LOVE with the main character Jeanne, a former creative director of an advertising firm who had a very public nervous breakdown during a presentation to 834 shallow advertising schmucks (which she actually called them, by the way). This is after she was brought up on assault charges for exacting a little revenge on her live-in, dead beat, VERY much cheating boyfriend (I'll only tell you that this attack involved a glue gun and a very embarrassing trip to the hospital for the boyfriend, aka Slick Dick). Which was after her mother died of cancer. So Jeanne was under some pressure.

She decides to go visit her brother in Washington, but pit stops a few hours away in a little town where she liked the pancakes so much she decided to stay. There is so much more funny stuff to this book--the court mandated anger management class, the germ-freak bed-and-breakfast owner, the falling down house Jeanne decides MUST be hers, a political campaign, cross dressing bar brawls, vodka tea parties, multiple love stories.....it's all in this book wrapped in lots of side-slitting humor. Oh, there's a murder in there too, just to keep things interesting. This book will make you laugh--I promise!




***Unchain Yourself! Look for this great book at your local independent book store. There is a store finder at indiebound.org***
999 reviews10 followers
November 10, 2009
I seem to be the only one who doesn't really care for Lamb's writing style. I thought the anger management counselor character too over the top again to be believable. Instead of quirky I find some, maybe most, of her characters and dialogue to be cartoonish.
Profile Image for Ruth.
2 reviews
June 19, 2011
***Spoiler Alert!***

“It would make a good film!” To be honest, that is what this book immediately reminded me of – watching scenes at the movies that have been designed to visually titillate, shock, excite or provoke extreme reaction. The cynical part of me wondered if Ms Lamb secretly dreams of motion picture glory! To be fair, maybe it is just the first person narrative device she employs, where the reader experiences all events through Jeanne Stewart’s eyes, which makes the story seem sometimes episodic. There is a strange contrast throughout between no detail at all (cars & houses bought and sold within a mere sentence or two) and excessive detail regarding clothing, hosiery and shoes, which whilst maybe designed to be revelatory regarding Jeanne’s state of mind, actually made the story seem somewhat unbalanced at times.

The implausible plot was undoubtedly somewhat entertaining in a rather cheap and amoral way, but realism and probability play little part in this novel, unless the State of Oregon (which I have never been fortunate enough to visit) is actually populated entirely by societal extremes. This is a pure escapist fantasy novel, complete with a hunky, powerful, successful “prince” to (literally!) sweep Ms Stewart off her feet. All her “day-to-day” problems seem far too easily solved – she finds accommodation, employment and friendship effortlessly, and she has too many advantages in life (being both talented and rich) to be a truly sympathetic character, despite the tragedies in her past.

Whilst many of the characters had their own flaws, disasters and issues to contend with, they were often drawn with such broad brush strokes that it made it difficult for me to truly care about their fates. The anger management classes seemed ludicrous to my (perhaps overly-conventional, rather too English?) eyes, and surely in reality the likelihood of such sessions being entirely populated (after the departure of the unpalatable Drake) by characters obviously designed to appear “lovable” despite their faults, would be vanishingly small? The fact that some major and serious problems are discussed means that superficially the characters may appear deep, as they attempt to deal with them, but actually both they and the “treatments” that they receive are still fairly shallowly depicted – having read this book, I have no greater understanding about anger-management, drugs or useful therapy techniques than I had before. Admittedly this work of fiction made no claim to realism on such points, but I might have found it more engaging, though possibly also more depressing, had it given me greater insight.

I found Jeanne’s involvement as an accessory after the fact to a major crime unnecessary and unsettling, and even though her motives were irreproachable, her actions, and especially the fact that she kept those matters secret from her new husband, left a nasty taste in my mouth, and made me even less sympathetic towards her as a character. Her innate demeanour is very much the opposite to mine, and whilst her brash behaviour may well be an external defence mechanism covering up a softer and more approachable interior, I did not feel that I would particularly enjoy spending time with her, as she would probably be intolerant and scathing towards me as well! As this is undoubtedly a work of “chick-lit”, her obsession with shoes may well be of great interest to many readers, and it is thus probably not out of place, but as the proud owner of about 6 pairs of largely serviceable and entirely flat footwear, I personally found it profoundly irritating!

I enjoyed the brief insight into political campaigning strategies, probably mainly because it enabled me to compare and contrast with my own experiences in such matters in the UK, but given the escapist nature of the rest of the book, I was not confident that this aspect was treated in any more of a true-to-life manner than anything else. I was also left distracted by a few glaring grammatical errors – I felt the use of “imminently” instead of “eminently” on page one did not bode well for the quality of the writing!

Despite all these points, I would probably rate this book at a slightly grudging 2 stars out of 5 – largely because I managed to finish it in just a few reading sessions! The novel was easy and quick to work through, undemanding, and superficially entertaining. The courtroom scene in particular was moderately humorous, and there were odd moments that made me laugh throughout, though unfortunately more often AT characters than with them, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. I could have done with a little less crude language in general, as despite it being “in context” I did not feel it particularly added anything to the reading experience, and may indeed put off some readers who might otherwise enjoy the story. Whilst I am sure that it has the potential to make a good and enjoyable film someday, I definitely do not feel that this novel will ever be rated as great literature, or that it will necessarily be remembered, or read by generations to come. When viewed as lightweight escapist fluff however, it fulfils its role admirably, and I would probably recommend it to anyone that I knew already enjoyed this genre, even though I was left somewhat underwhelmed by it myself.
Profile Image for Courtney.
179 reviews3 followers
June 18, 2011
I found the plot to just be unbelievable, which may sound odd considering that a couple of weeks ago I raved about a book that involved magic food! Ha! But, I just kept thinking that things just fell into place too easily for Jeanne...finding a home, buying a house, burying a body, and that laughably implausible court trial. It killed me to keep reading as all of the jurors just perfectly aligned themselves with Jeanne's cause. Blech.

Jeanne's confrontation with Dan the Migrant Devil in the grocery
store, and Drake Windham at the first anger management group meeting
were just plain odd. Really? Who acts like that? Jeanne's behavior,
despite being mid "nervous breakdown", was very incongruent (there's a
grad school word for ya!) with the overall tone of the book and the
rest of her behavior.

If she described her outfits and shoes to me one more time I was going
to stab her eye out with a stiletto.

Finally, don't even get me started on the murder and burial of Dan the
Migrant Devil. Was he foul? Of course. But, seriously, if I had helped
bury a murdered man, I think I would have felt compelled to confess
that to my husband before our wedding day.

There were parts that were sweet. I felt that the parts dealing with
Johnny and Ally had more honesty to them than the rest of the book and
that alone could have carried a beautiful novel. I also really liked
Becky's character, as again, I felt she was portrayed with at least a
sliver of realism.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Miss Kim.
535 reviews129 followers
May 15, 2011
This was my first Cathy Lamb book, and I’m very pleased with this ‘random grab’. For those that enjoy chick-lit occasionally, I do recommend this one.

I loved Jeanne. She is abrasive, witty, endearing, and she loves hot shoes! She relocates across the country after a public nervous breakdown, and a scuffle with the law. She ends up a small town in Oregon, and begins to rebuild her life.

I tore thru the first half in one day, and then it either lost steam, or I got too busy and lost my momentum with the story. It really is a good story, and quite funny. I just think it may have been a bit dragged out.
Profile Image for Jackie.
692 reviews182 followers
May 12, 2008
Oh, the smart-a%% in me fell in LOVE with the main character Jeanne, a former creative director of an advertising firm who had a very public nervous breakdown during a presentation to 834 shallow advertising schmucks (which she
actually called them, by the way). This is after she was brought up on assault charges for exacting a little revenge on her live-in, dead beat, VERY much cheating boyfriend (I'll only tell you that this attack involved a glue gun and
a very embarrassing trip to the hospital for the boyfriend, aka Slick Dick). Which was after her mother died of cancer. So Jeanne was under some pressure.

She decides to go visit her brother in Washington, but pit stops a few hours away in a little town where she liked the pancakes so much she decided to stay. There is so much more funny stuff to this book--the court mandated anger management class, the germ-freak bed-and-breakfast owner, the falling down house Jeanne decides MUST be hers, a political campaign, cross dressing bar brawls, vodka tea parties, multiple love stories.....it's all in this book
wrapped in lots of side-slitting humor. Oh, there's a murder in there too, just to keep things interesting. This book will make you laugh--I promise!

236 reviews8 followers
June 27, 2015
Let me be very clear here. I gave up-I mean throwing this ridiculous book across the room-is how I gave up at the point that she - whatever the hell her name is- decides that the only way to rid herself of her anger is to run naked along the river - at night. Okay that's only half of it- BUT as she is running naked up the river-at night- she slams into a GORGEOUS - I mean GORRRGEOUS- prince charming who presses against her naked body and asks her all these darling heartfelt -ohh so quirky questions all about herself. Now keep in mind - she's naked. And they have these absolutely CHARMING QUIRKY conversation and ..? and...? and ... fall in love.
This book makes me want to puke at the very sound of the word quirky. If I never see that word again it won't be too soon. So many ways to disguise CHICKLIT- but you know what? Don't bother. This is a stupid book that insults any kind of female intelligence. Any kind at all.JM
Profile Image for Michelle.
753 reviews4 followers
July 8, 2018
Total fail for me. I absolutely hated the main character, the dialogue, and the writing style.

This book could have been 10 pages long if you removed all of the stupid dialogue and details. We go to the grocery store, and the author makes it a point to give us 5-10 full names of people we literally will never cross paths with again. And the names are all unique, and vaguely ethnic, so we can see the diversity of this random small town in Oregon.

Quirky characters? Sure. We have a weird woman who is obsessed with germs. Some migrant workers who are seriously stereotyped in the worst way. A main character who obsesses over shoes, speaks her mind in a way that no one would want to be friends with her. Throw in the world's worst anger management counselor and a Gary Stu of a governor who inexplicably tolerates the MC's crap and you have a hot mess of a book.

I can't think of anything nice to say right now, so I'll leave it at: 1 star. Do not recommend to anyone.
January 23, 2009
A must read for any women having made change in her life! It made me cry, laugh and contemplate! There are many statements and comments that go right to your heart giving you strength and forgiveness. This is a funny and serious story of a woman sick of the relationship/career wars. She breaks down, runs for solace, finds a place to call home, meets interesting hometown neighbors and is involved in a murder. Her heart and soul are filled guiltless amounts of home made pancakes! I've read it twice and look forward to another read
Profile Image for Barbara Hale.
438 reviews
September 3, 2020
This is one of the better novels from the chick-lit genre. I don't like sappy romance, but this one was not sappy. It is entertaining -funny, sad, happy, and thought-provoking.

Jeanne is a thirty-something ad-executive in Chicago when she has her break-down. She and her boyfriend have just had an ugly break-up which results in Jeanne being arrested for assault. She stands up at an advertising conference and tells hundreds of people in the audience that advertising sucks, and their careers are meaningless.

She packs up a Bronco and heads out west, determined to drive into the Pacific Ocean and never be heard from again. She stops along the way in a small town outside of Portland, Oregon and orders pancakes in a diner.

That decision changes the course of Jeanne's life. This book is hilariously funny, and also very tender. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Vickie.
1,313 reviews4 followers
June 1, 2018
I read several other books by Cathy Lamb and have enjoyed them; this one, not so much. For those of you who have read it, I didn't enjoy the story until the trial. That's a lot of pages to not enjoy. I found the main character intelligent but immature and not very likable. In fact, she was just a little too pathetic for me. Too many of the situations were just totally unrealistic. Sorry, but this one was not one of my favorite reads.

Go Cards! L1C4!!
Profile Image for Testi_moni.
244 reviews22 followers
February 27, 2022
3.5
The language really bothers me with this author, but I like her creative stories and writing.
I had to chuckle reading this book. 🤪
The main character lost her mom that’s why I picked this one up.
Profile Image for Mary.
41 reviews8 followers
February 23, 2013
This is the second Cathy Lamb book I have read and I found it difficult to have to put it down to come back to real life. It is the kind of book, where you just want to curl up on the coach, the deck, the patio, where ever is your favorite comfy spot and just read, read, read.

Jeanne Stewart is a woman who will get under your skin, in a good way, and take you on a journey that every woman can relate. Perhaps you have not experienced ALL aspects of her story, but some are certainly familiar and ring true.

Cathy Lamb assembles a wonderful list of characters, there is "Slick Dick", Roy Sass, Soman, Braden, Becky and Emmaline. There is the germ phobia fearing Rosvita, who knows everything about anything bacteria. There is the singing chef, Donovan at the Opera Man's Cafe. And, of course, there is someone who helps Jeanne find her true path in life, after she rungs into him, running naked at night. That would be Jay Kendall.

The story starts in Chicago, when Jeanne essentially is throwing in the towel on her high powered, career driven life. She packes it all in and heads out to Oregon. Probably because her brother is out there. Her life stops in Weltana, after she tastes the wonderful pancakes at the Opera Man's Cafe.

From there the story spins into wonderful, colorful creative characters. Rosvita provides Jeanne a home and friendship. Emmaline and the group in anger management class, guide Jeanne back to her sense of self, but oh, what a journey.

Defending herself against, the lawsuit brought by "Slick Dick", causes Jeanne to really analyze herself and why she has not really taken time, to look at and love people. In short, to truly share her life with someone.

This story is a journey and you will be wrapped up in the trip. I can't tell you, how many times, I was reading this book (for example while eating lunch in a restuarant by myself), when I burst out laughing out loud or nearly chocked on a mouthful of water, as it was so funny. But, yet, you will feel the emotions and fear. I found this sentiment at toward the end of the book telling, as it really gives the sense of how this very powerful woman, began to discover the simple pleasures of life: "Chatting is simply a break from life and stree. When one is wading through the black tar of hellacious things going on in life, chat is pure and it's sweet. It helps one roll over the hard times in life, or roll with, whichever one must do at the time".

This book ranks as a must read. The witty style of writing is fresh and fun. I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for Del.
12 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2008
Despite my best intentions, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

I work in a bookstore, and when a customer called to ask whether we had Cathy Lamb's first book, she Would. Not. Stop. talking about how much she enjoyed The Last Time I Was Me. As the line of customers approaching my register grew, the woman on the phone nearly pleaded for me to read this book. "You'll LOVE it!" She carried on for so long that I finally conceded. Sheesh.

Despite my best intentions to *Not* enjoy a book I initially dismissed as probable Chick Lit, this is one of the most entertaining and enjoyable reads I've come across in a long while. The protagonist, Jeanne, is a woman you'd want to move in, become your Best Friend, enjoy a good mutual nervous breakdown, then be there to back you up when you find yourself in a tight spot. She, as well as the rest of Lamb's characters, are boldly drawn in bright, colorful splashes of high and true color. Yet they are amazingly warm and down to earth. That balance is not an easy task for a writer to accomplish. And because the characters are true-to-life, you'll find that they'll make you laugh, cringe, wince, and smile between squeezing out a tear or two.

I wish I knew who that anonymous phone customer was. I'd thank her for the recommendation. My only problem is that I now sound a whole lot like she did. And now, despite all of my best intentions, I find myself writing a review so that I can recommend it to You.

Just don't blame me if you love it too.
Profile Image for Fabienne.
55 reviews1 follower
January 14, 2013
I stumbled on this book quite by accident. I was mindlessly pinning things on Pinterest when I saw this book listed on a stranger’s board. She described it as one of the best books she’s ever read. Curious, I went to Amazon to read the reviews. Many people claimed they liked this book against their better judgment. The word “funny” came up over and over in the reviews. Figuring I could use some humor in my life, I downloaded it to my Kindle (it was only about 6 bucks).
This book has me scratching my head because I don��t know how to categorize it. I don’t even know if I really like this book. When I first started reading, I thought “Oh, it’s a chick-lit”. Then some serious issues were brought up (rape, alcoholism, cancer and more) that had me thinking maybe it’s serious fiction. Some parts had me laughing out loud while others had me rolling my eyes. I’m not even sure how I feel about the protagonist; in some parts I liked her very much and in others I found her impossibly irritating.
I think seeing this book rated so highly before reading it may have set unrealistic expectations. I will say however that I liked that it was a quick and easy read and that it didn't cost much.
Profile Image for Tamara.
5 reviews4 followers
October 24, 2010
Weak writing and even poorer editing -- you know it's a bad sign when you find 3 grammatical mistakes in the first 15 pages and neither the author nor her editor know the difference between "imminent" and "eminent".
Profile Image for *The Angry Reader*.
1,350 reviews293 followers
Read
July 14, 2017
This is a note to you Future Me. You don't like Cathy Lamb books. They are the epitome of chick-lit. Perky with odd female characters that remain bubbly while dealing with horrific things. They are cliche. They are aggravating.
Profile Image for Bobbie.
508 reviews67 followers
November 25, 2017
I loved this book! It's the first book I've read by this author, but now I want to read more of her books. The main character Jeanne Stewart in this book is definitely in need of some anger management, and the book begins with her having a nervous breakdown in the middle of doing a presentation in front of 8oo something people at an Advertising Convention. Part of what led to her breakdown is finding out her boyfriend who she thought was faithful to her has been cheating on her for months. In her rage, I'd say she handles this problem rather creatively injuring him in a way that lands her in trouble with the law. This book is touching, laugh out funny in some parts, and a great read.I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Anne Woodbury.
42 reviews3 followers
August 14, 2021
I throughly enjoyed this book. The writing is so witty and each of the characters are so unique and charming. Jeanne, the main character, is real and quick witted. I want to be friends with her. It was a quick fun read I picked up in the shelf at the beach house we rented. Written in 2008 I think but did not seem dated at all. Made me want to go skinny dipping and live out loud more. It may not win awards but I’d read it again just for the humor in her writing. I’ll be reading more by Cathy Lamb.
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