The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square
by Rosina Lippi

Published: 2008-02-14
Hardcover : 368 pages
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From the author of Tied to the Tracks comes a charming new novel set in Lambert's Corner, South Carolina-a beautiful town where no one's secrets remain secret for very long. For John Dodge, moving to new places and reviving ailing businesses is a way of life. So when he sees an ad for Scriveners, a ...
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From the author of Tied to the Tracks comes a charming new novel set in Lambert's Corner, South Carolina-a beautiful town where no one's secrets remain secret for very long. For John Dodge, moving to new places and reviving ailing businesses is a way of life. So when he sees an ad for Scriveners, a stationery shop in a small town in South Carolina, he decides to take the plunge. As soon as he arrives in Lambert's Corner, Dodge falls happily into the whirl of gossip, gifts, and quintessential Southern hospitality. Link Kay, one of his employees, warms up to him after Dodge admires his expertise on pens. Bean Hurt-a feisty and outspoken ten-year-old-becomes a fast friend. And Maude Golden, the mayor, supplies him with indispensable information. But the one person who really catches Dodge's eye is Julia Darrow-the beautiful but aloof pajama-wearing owner of the Cocoon, a popular store specializing in luxury linens. Dodge tries to befriend her, but she remains elusive and mysterious. Everyone knows that she is a widow, but no one seems to know why she came to town or why she never leaves Lambert Square-or does she? Like Dodge, Chicago-born Julia is fleeing a tumultuous past. But with the help of a hilarious and endearing cast of characters, Julia and Dodge learn that, sometimes, you don't need to go far to find home.

Editorial Review

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Julia was standing at the counter sorting paperwork when Exa Stabley came in from the heat with her cheeks all flushed and her eyes shining.
"Here comes a whopper," said Mayme. "Brace yourself."
This was the way the work day began at Cocoon: the three of them getting ready to open the shop while Exa shared news, gossip, observations, and her philosophy of life. In the first month after they opened, Julia had been at a loss onhow to handle Exa, who had been hired not so much for her retail experience as her excellent sewing skills and her connections. She was related to everybody in Lamb's Corner –- including Mayme, who was as dark skinned as Exa was light—-and prided herself on getting along with every one of her blood kin. Exa had dozens of stories, and a determination to share them. After a month Julia began to wonder if there wasn't some way to turn her off, or at least down a notch. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Are there any towns you know that remind you of Lamb's
Corner? What things would you like (or dislike) about living in a town like it?
2. Have you ever worked in a retail position? How would you
like to work at Lambert Square, and in what shop?
3. Which of the Lambert Square folks would you like to have
a meal with, and why?
4. How has Dodge's relationship with his father influenced
him over the course of his life? Is there a connection to
his claustrophobia, and if so, how?
5. Why did Julia leave Chicago so abruptly? Was there any
reason for her to stay?
6. Julia claims that she has a good and fulfilling life and
there's nothing wrong with her. Dodge wonders sometimes if
she's right. Is she?
7. Why is Mayme so distrustful of Nils? What is it about
him that she likes?
8. How does Dodge's training as a psychotherapist make him
better at the work he does now?
9. Julia surprises herself by driving to Brooklyn on the spur of the moment. Why is this suddenly possible for her?
10. Where do you think Dodge and Julia will end up?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

John Dodge is a claustrophobic (as he puts it) in recovery; Julia Darrow is an agoraphobic in denial. When they meet in the small South Carolina town of Lamb's Corner there's an immediate spark. But everybody warns Dodge not to set his sights on Julia. She's a puzzle box, a neighbor tells him. Nary a seam to be seen. But Dodge likes puzzles, and heis good at fixing things.

What made you want to write this book? What was the idea that sparked your imagination?

Oddly enough, the original germ of an idea came to me when I was seventeen (lo those many years ago) when I saw the film version of Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye's troubles with his daughters and his philosophy of love bounced around in my head for years. A bird and a fish may love each other, but where will they make a home together?

Usually the stories about a mismatch are about race (Othello), or family (West Side Story), or religion or age.

I wanted to take a different approach. I have anxiety disorders myself (all under control), but as I get older I have had the sense that I'm becoming slightly agoraphobic. I really prefer not to travel outside the town where I live. I will do so, but I avoid it where possible. My husband, on the other hand, is an outdoorsman and he loves moving through the world. We have developed ways of accomodating both sets of needs (twenty years working at it, after all). But I was thinking about all this and the idea of a claustrophobic man and an agoraphobic woman falling love. The only vaguely similar story I could think of was As Good as It Gets, where an obsessive/compulsive and somebody with her head on straight develop as a couple. Thus came Dodge and Julia into being.

What do you want readers to take away with them after reading the book?

A good story can't be tied down. It walks away from the author and develops a life of its own; the characters run off in all directions. And that's a good thing. That's the sign of a great story, when the readers can't let it go. It makes me oddly happy when readers ask me how one of my characters is doing -- this happens quite a lot -- as if I met with them for dinner every week. It means I told a good story. I'd also like them to be insanely curious about all the rest of my work, to the degree that they have to run out and buy all of them, immediately.

Hey. An author can dream, no?

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
  "Delightful book"by jrourke (see profile) 12/30/11

Fun book with some thoughtful insights lightly woven through. A fresh escape great for a summertime book club read.

  "Boring and predictable"by alexisscott (see profile) 01/09/09

A typical romantic based novel, with little more substance. The conflicts and outcomes were predictable, the characters unlikable, nothing in this book captured my attention.

  "Ideal jobs"by Kathy E. (see profile) 05/06/08

I really enjoyed this book. It was fun coming up with a dream job and discussing it with the group.

  "Fabulous characters and small town living at its best. Just perfect!!!"by KTaylor (see profile) 04/12/08

This is a fabulous story about small town living and the wonderfully eccentric characters that give a town it's character, personality and ability to encompass and welcome strangers into the... (read more)

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