The Mandolin Lunch was a very pleasant surprise. I like Missouri Vaun‘s imagination even when I’m not entirely convinced by her writing and with this novel, I feel like I got the whole package.
Garet Allen leaves Atlanta for Shadetree for a three-month stint as a substitute art teacher at a rural school. Her main job as a children’s books author isn’t enough and she likes the idea of interacting directly with her audience. Little does she know that teaching art isn’t as easy as she thought, especially when you’re crushing hard on the music teacher with whom you share a classroom. Tess Hill, the above-mentioned music teacher, is adorable and a talented musician but first and foremost the mother of a cute and bright six-year-old child, and not sure she’s ready to risk her heart and/or her daughter’s.
The writing in this book is much smoother than in any of Vaun’s I’ve read before, despite a couple of overstatements but nothing big. I wasn’t even bothered by the slightly rushed ending, it really worked for me.
The characters are very lovable, the story is sweet but what I really enjoyed above all is the descriptions of Garet’s work as an artist. Vaun knows what she’s writing about (since behind Missouri Vaun is Paige Braddock) and the details of the process from blank page to illustration, the journey of the drawing feels authentic and fascinating. And I loved the way Garet and Tess talk about music and art, how they compare and what they love about either.