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Anybody Any Minute by Julie Mars
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Anybody Any Minute

by Julie Mars

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Ellen Henry tells her boss off, gets fired, and buys an old, beat-down cottage on the way to visit her sister in Montreal. (with a credit card line of credit, no less) She leaves her husband, Tommy, for the summer so she can spend time finding herself. She makes friends with two local fellas, adopts a mutt, and ends up caring for her sister's 2-year old son, Olivier. Tommy admits to having met someone special, his yoga teacher and Ellen finds herself deep in a marital crisis. Ellen always gets herself involved in everybody's problems, but this time she has quite a few of her own to figure out.

Anybody Any Minute is a charming, fun, and light-hearted story. It has several colorful characters who make the story very interesting. I really enjoyed Ellen most of the time, although sometimes I really had to wonder what she was thinking! I think, at times, we would all like to run away from our "real" lives...Ellen does and we all get to experience it through her. ( )
  julyso | Jun 25, 2009 |
There’s a tremendous intimacy in Julie Mars’ writing. It’s as if she were an old friend, confiding secrets. That isn’t to say that her latest book Anybody Any Minute doesn’t create a fictive dream. The protagonist Ellen Kenny comes across as real, and the story, despite its quirky turns, is also believable. As the novel opens, Forty Five year old Ellen is in trouble. Despite having just lost her job, she purchases a run down house in the country on her credit card for reasons she can’t fathom, and her husband Tommy is furious. After seventeen years of marriage, she suddenly realises that she can’t connect with her husband (who is contemplating an affair), her new house is full of problems, her neighbours are bizarre, and her sister experiences a tragedy that leaves Ellen taking care of a 2 year old who doesn’t speak English. Add in the unexpected custody of a depressed dog, and Ellen find herself way over her head. It’s a situation that only the finest “open-your-heart” herbal tea, acupuncture treatments, extensive research, an artistic chainsaw, and lots of spontaneous love can sort out. To call this book charming would be an understatement. As a character, Ellen might be irritating and self-centred in a lesser author’s hands, but instead Julie Mars creates a woman whose mid-life soul searching comes across as believable and important. Ellen’s excessive interest in the lives of the strangers she meets has a bit of naivety to it. It’s the antithesis of the way people in her native New York City approach one another, but her behaviour is also moving. Ellen lets people in and then gives back without reservation, a quality which she notes, is generally lacking in our modern world. Ellen’s search drives the narrative on, and her philosophical musings and refusal to take things at face value turn what looks like a no-win situation with no-hope characters into something entirely different. There are moments when Ellen’s musings go quite deep, enriching the novel beyond its light-hearted fast moving plot.Other characters like Rayfield of Porkerville, whose wife “Wide Load” has left him and who is selling his entire beer can collection along with his motorcycle leathers, or the chainsaw wielding Rodney, are as well crafted as they are funny. There are moments, such as Rayfield’s attempts at re-enacting Dustin Hoffman’s role in The Graduate, or Ellen’s impulsive buying which range from the house itself to fork bracelets and silk kimonos, where the reader is laughing outloud. But the narrative never descends into farce, buoyed as it is by the relationship between Ellen and her nephew Olivier, between Ellen and her sister, and between Ellen and the people she meets in this journey which parallels her dreams. The previous owner, Viola, is as intriguing as she is absent, and Mars handles her lightly, but still makes her a powerful muse for Ellen, leading the book to its rich conclusion. For anyone who was young in the 1960s or for women over forty, Anybody Any Minute will have particular interest. The historical context is melded neatly with the psychological. While there’s definitely a feminine edge to this book, Anybody Any Minute is the kind of book you can read quickly in the airport, or on the beach, for pure entertainment, or more deeply, for the themes it illuminates. Julie Mars’ latest novel tows a wonderful line between humour, introspection, and powerful characterisation. ( )
  maggieball | Jun 22, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312378696, Hardcover)

Ellen Kenny has a big mouth and a penchant for telling the truth, which is why she’s just been fired from yet another high-profile NYC job. Determined to make the most of this unexpected free time, she heads to Montreal to visit her sister. On the way, she spots a tumbledown upstate farmhouse---one she’s seen in her dreams for years---and impulsively buys it on a hefty credit card advance. Over her husband’s protests, Ellen decides to drop out of the rat race and spend the summer living out her woman-who-runs-with-the wolves fantasy, communing with nature---her own included---in an effort to confront middle age and figure out how on earth she got there. Rather than peacefully tend her garden and puzzle things out, however, Ellen soon becomes embroiled in the exceedingly unique problems of two redneck, social misfit neighbors---an ex-biker and an aging chainsaw sculptor---while taking care of a narcoleptic dog and a child who doesn’t speak English.

With Ellen’s quest for meaning and her concern for the welfare of others driving the plot, Anybody Any Minute is deeply layered, heartbreaking . . . and hilarious.

 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:02 -0400)

Despire her hunband's protests, Ellen decides to drop out of the rat race and spend the summer living out her woman-who-runs-with-the-wolves fantasy, communing with nature in an effort to confront middle age and figure out how she got there.

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