Wallflower In BloomClaire Cook
Reviewed By – Sheri de Grom

Author Claire Cook hooked me with protagonist Deirdre Griffin on the opening page of Wallflower In Bloom.

Who wants to be at their older brothers’ beck and call twenty-four/seven? Who wants to be at anyone’s beck and call? Not me.

To some, Deirdre might seem to have a great life. She jets around the country, stays at first-rate hotels, and lives on the company’s expense account. She also has the adorable house her brother fashioned for her and she pays no rent and never a mortgage payment. The downside, Deirdre has no life of her own; she spends almost zero time in her wonderful little house.

Deirdre might as well be invisible. She spends her days working for her brother, Tag. She’s his gatekeeper. If anyone wants to see Tag, they have to go through Deirdre.

Tag, the dazzling brother, has turned himself into a family company and the daily lives of his parents and siblings revolve around him. He’s a self-proclaimed New Age guru.

Deirdre is instantly a likeable character. She’s quick witted and, although I didn’t want to identify with her, she crawled in and stayed under my skin, page after page.

Pg.62 . . .[I shook my head to clear away the past and turned to take in the depths of my walk-in closet. Some women arrange their clothes by season: winter-spring-summer-fall-winter. Others do it by color: lightest to darkest or darkest to lightest or even whites here, blacks here, and colors over there. Some just cram everything in wherever it will fit.

I had a system, too, though I was pretty sure I’d never acknowledged it before, even to myself. My closet was arranged by size: Now, Not That Long Ago, Once Upon a Time, Never Again, and In Your Dreams. I didn’t even have to check the tags to verify the humiliating range of ever-increasing numerals displayed to them.]. . .

Additional insult to Deirdre’s already invisible self is provided by her on-again, off-again boyfriend Mitchell. He drops by her house to let her know his new girlfriend is pregnant and they’re getting married.

This information pushes Deirdre over the edge and convinces her something has to change. Briefly, she entertains the idea of placing an ad for herself to become a wife for a Russian gentleman. Her faulty theory being: if Russian women are paid for by American men then the reverse should be true.

Deirdre is desperate. It doesn’t help that she’s also drunk on a blended concoction of vodka and chocolate-caramel ice cream.

Deirdre has one good thing going for her—or at least one good thing she can acknowledge for herself—she’s a good dancer.

While scrolling through news sites on her computer, a headline catches her attention: Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) is looking for a last-minute celebrity dancer.

A producer from DWTS had been trying to get Tag on the show for years.

This suddenly seems the opportunity to break away from Tag’s clutches and the family. DWTS could be the pathway to her own identity.

After all, Deirdre’s savvy use of social media made Tag a household name in less than a year. She and she alone had gave up her life and now she’s going to take it back. It’s as simple as following a facebook link.

Deirdre composes a message for Tag and sends it to all his social media contacts asking that Deirdre (his sister) be voted in as the new contestant for DWTS.

Deirdre is voted on the show and Tag along with the extended family is furious. But for once in her life, Deirdre does the one thing she wants to do for herself.

Los Angeles isn’t all Deirdre expects it to be and the apartment DWTS provides her is LA’s basic short-term rental of white-on-white. It’s dreary enough to make the most balanced person unsure of what she’d gotten herself into.

After a particularly grueling practice session with her professional dance partner, Deirdre wonders just what she’s doing. I can’t imagine any woman who’s reached the age of thirty who couldn’t relate to at least part of Deirdre’s breakthrough.

Pg 146 . . .[I let it out. I cried and cried. I cried about dancing like a grandma. Then I worked my way backward from there. I cried about the fact that the only thing people really liked about me was my brother. I cried about Mitchell not caring enough to commit to a life with me, even if I hadn’t been sure I wanted to commit to a life with him either. I cried about wasting such a big chunk of my life not having a life. I cried about always feeling second fiddle, or even fourth fiddle, in my family, and then hitching my wagon to the family star anyway. I cried about not having the guts to make it on my own after college, about drifting through high school, about the parties I hadn’t been invited to, the friends who’d dumped me, about being such a wimp that I just sat back and let Joanie Baloney take away the things I should have fought for.

I cried because I was sad. I cried because I was embarrassed. And lonely. And scared. I cried because I wanted with all my heart to be a different kind of person, the kind of person who knew who she was, the kind of person who didn’t dance like a grandma. But I simply didn’t know how to get there.

When I ran out of tears, Ilya handed me a tissue.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “It’s just a lot, that’s all.”

“I know,” he said.]. . .

Claire Cook creates Deirdre to be every woman’s woman. Deirdre is relatable and fun. She recognizes she needs to change but struggles moment-to-moment with her biggest enemy, herself. Wallflower In Bloom provides Deirdre the perfect opportunity to heal herself, and by doing so, gives every woman the hope of doing the same. If Deirdre can dance, so can every other woman.

Wallflower In Bloom by Claire Cook is more than an entertaining book. It’s an outstanding study of how a modern woman gives herself over to someone else’s desires and forgets to live her own life in the process.

I highly recommend Wallflower In Bloom without reservation. Not only is it an engaging read but the underlying message is also one every woman can relate to in some way as she journeys through her own life.

About Sheri de Grom

Retired Fed/JAG, 5 yrs. on Capitol Hill. Former book buyer for B and N. Concerned citizen of military drawdown. Currently involved in mental healthcare reform, health care strategist and actively pursuing legislative change wherein dual retirees are exempt from enrolling in Medicare at their own discretion without losing tertiary healthcare benefits. Monitor and comment on Federal Register proposed legislation involving Mental Health, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services, Medicare and rural libraries. Licensed OSHA Inspector to include Super Fund sites. Full time caregive to Vietnam era veteran. Conceptualized, investigated possible alternatives, authored, lobbied for, and successfully implemented Title X, Section 1095 (known as the Third Party Collection Program of Federal Insurance).
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  1. Sheryl says:

    It sounds like a great book. I’ve added it to my “books to read” list.

  2. Hi, Florence – I’m so happy you liked the review. You can’t go wrong with a book written by Claire. My first introduction to her work was when Tom and I saw the movie, ‘Must Love Dogs’. I’ll be blogging about that after the 1st of the year. After I saw the movie and the sentimental attachment I have for the movie, I began my love affair with Claire’s books and haven’t been let down a single time. Her novels have something for every woman. It doesn’t matter the age. Go forth and read my friend, you’ll love every delicious word.

  3. Sheri, there are times that we read something and say … “who the hell’s been walking inside my head?” … That is how I felt about your great review of Claire’s book, Wallflower in Bloom. So I immediately went to amazon … then I went to her web page … I think I might have to go back to amazon and buy the entire collection. Thanks to you for the review, to Sharla for the nod, to Claire for walking in all our heads 🙂

  4. Dierdre sounds like a wonderfully conflicted character. I will definitely add it to my TBR… after I get my TBR, etc. to some kind of manageable length… oh, I know… I’ll just take two weeks off over Christmas to read and go for snowy walks! Hmm… now there’s a plan.

    • Mary – I understand about that TBR pile. I’ve moved mine onto shelves to manage now as the stacks kept falling over and the books are easier to manage. I make progress when I always have a book in the car, one in my purse, another on my nightstand, and another by the chair where I relax. Others have a hard time understanding how I keep the stories straight, but it seems to work for me.

  5. booklaurie says:

    About six weeks ago, I actually watched Dancing With The Stars. So now it’ll be a treat picturing Deirdre in that situation…whether or not she ever makes it to the show!

  6. Claire Cook says:

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write such a fabulous review, Sheri. I’m so glad you enjoyed Wallflower in Bloom and I appreciate your support SO much!!!

  7. This sounds like a good read, Sheri, and one that I’d like in my TBR pile. Thank you for the review.

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