This Fine Life

This Fine Life

4.1 90
by Eva Marie Everson
     
 

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It is the summer of 1959 and Mariette Puttnam has just graduated from boarding school. When she returns to her privileged life at home, she isn't sure where life will take her. More schooling? A job? Marriage? Nothing feels right. How could she know that the answer is waiting for her within the narrow stairwell of her father's apparel factory, exactly between the

Overview

It is the summer of 1959 and Mariette Puttnam has just graduated from boarding school. When she returns to her privileged life at home, she isn't sure where life will take her. More schooling? A job? Marriage? Nothing feels right. How could she know that the answer is waiting for her within the narrow stairwell of her father's apparel factory, exactly between the third and fourth floors?
In this unique and tender story of an unlikely romance, popular author Eva Marie Everson takes readers on a journey through the heart of a young woman bound for the unknown. Readers will experience the joys of new love, the perseverance of true friendship, and the gift of forgiveness that comes from a truly fine life.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Mariette Puttnam has just graduated from boarding school and returned home to her successful white-collar family. She is unsure of what to do with her life—Should she continue her schooling? Look for a job? Become a wife and mother? It is 1959, and her family has definite ideas about what Mariette should do with her life, but she doesn't necessarily agree them. VERDICT The coauthor of the "Potluck Club" series has written a wonderful coming-of-age story that deals with the themes of friendship, first loves, and forgiveness.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780800732745
Publisher:
Baker Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/2010
Edition description:
Original
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

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Read an Excerpt

This Fine Life

A Novel
By Eva Marie Everson

Revell

Copyright © 2010 Eva Marie Everson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8007-3274-5


Chapter One

This is not the story of my life. This is the story of my husband's life, or at the very least how the story of his life affected mine and all those he touched just by his being near them or with them. Thayne was like that, you see. Just by being, he touched lives. He was infectious, upbeat, passionate, determined. Next to the flame of his existence I was a spark looking to ignite, a matchstick never quite making it to the striker. But, in time, the same fever that burned within him burned within me.

For too long I had existed, not really going anywhere and not standing still. I just lived, always in search of something that seemed just out of my range of vision. Or, if I thought I could see it-this elusive thing I needed to be complete-it was slightly out of reach.

But the change didn't occur instantaneously after meeting Thayne. I had to come to grips with who he was, who I was when I was with him, and who I was without him. I had to open myself up to the truth he'd discovered, step into the pages of its book, pressing myself like a flower between them. I had to stop looking for the fairy tale and find the story.

Up until my eighteenth birthday the days of my life came too easily. Pampered childhood, oldest of three children, good daughter, good student, good friend. While my father planned my next academic move, my mother plotted the rise of my social status, and all the while I lived day to day, trying to figure out just where my life would go from wherever it was at that moment.

And then everything changed, all within the narrow stairwell of my father's apparel factory, exactly between the third and fourth floors.

I returned home on a warm summer's day in early June 1959. The previous afternoon I'd celebrated my graduation from Saint Margaret Mary High, a private boarding school I'd attended over the past four years. Mama and Daddy were there, of course. Daddy's mother. My brothers, Tommy and Mitch (whom I had always called Toodles, much to his dismay). After the solemn services-where I received the St. Francis de Sales award for having read the greatest number of books in the four years I'd attended-Daddy had taken us out for a pricey dinner at a swank restaurant Mama had chosen for the occasion. While Tommy and Mitch devoured hamburgers with thick, juicy fries, the rest of us dined on steak and baked potatoes loaded with gobs of sour cream and sweet butter and garnished with chives. It was the Great Feast, the Last Supper, if you will. The meal where I'd officially left the innocence of childhood and entered the sacrificial experience of adulthood with all its questions, most of which Grandmother Puttnam was asking.

"So, Mariette, what's next for you, dear?" she asked, dabbing at the corners of her mouth with the white linen napkin she'd drawn from her lap.

"Well," I began. I dropped my hands to my own napkin. I grabbed it by its seam and pulled, curling my fingers until my hands had formed tiny fists. "I'm not really sure. I'm all packed and ready to go home tomorrow, of course, and I thought maybe this summer I'd just, you know, spend some time with old friends, hang out at the beach, take in some movies. Come fall I can concentrate on what's really next."

I cut my eyes over to Mama, who added, "She's a young lady of breeding, Miss Emily. She'll do what all young ladies of breeding do."

Daddy cleared his throat. "She'll go to school starting the first of next year. We let her slide on fall enrollment, but come January ..." His voice trailed off.

I smiled at Grandmother Puttnam. "Maybe I can combine my father's wish with my mother's wish, go to college, and come back with an M.R.S."

Grandmother Puttnam reached for her glass of water and spoke, directing her comments to my mother. "Mary Sue, what I would have given for the opportunity to have earned a college degree. Women didn't do things like that in my day, of course. Or it was few and far between. Most of us were expected to marry and participate in all that goes with wedded bliss, and so we did." Then she looked at me. "My dear, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?"

I didn't answer right away. I couldn't. I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do or be, what I wanted to accomplish or earn. The thought of being some man's wife for the rest of my life-especially some man Mama might find suitable-left rocks in the pit of my stomach. But I couldn't imagine four years at a college-an all-girls college if I knew my father-either.

All eyes turned to me. I finally smiled, tilted my head, and said, "Oh, I don't know, Grandmother. Let's just see what the summer brings."

The following evening, Daddy stood at my bedroom door and said his final good night. "Tomorrow?" he asked. "Lunch at noon with the old man?"

"Like old times?"

Daddy winked at me. He instinctively knew what I was asking. "Old times" was our code for a greasy cheeseburger with fries and a fountain drink at Drucker's Rexall Drug Store. "Like old times." He disappeared from the doorway and stepped down the hall to say good night to Tommy and Mitch.

I chuckled lightly. It was good to be home, even though Mama would have a conniption fit if she knew Daddy would be spoiling me with such tempting delicacies. "She's a young woman now," she'd say. "She needs to watch her figure if she's going to land a husband of any worth."

I am a young woman now. That much was certain. I'd left for Saint Margaret Mary's a gangly fourteen-year-old and had returned after my senior year as grown and ripe for the picking as they come.

I heard the faint "good nights" whispered by my father and brothers, then listened as Daddy entered the master bedroom, where my mother was waiting. Their room was separated from mine by the wall behind my headboard.

At first no words were spoken between them. I waited expectantly for the sound of drawers sliding open then shut. The door to the bathroom closing, then opening. My father muttering something followed by my mother's comeback. These were the words I never understood, muffled by Sheetrock and wallpaper. But I'd certainly wondered about them. These were the words of a couple who still loved each other after twenty years of marriage. What were they, exactly? What did a woman say to a man she'd slept with for two decades?

Typically, after the ebb and flow of their final conversation of the day, they and the house would grow silent, then dark. I would turn off my bedside lamp and, like all the others in our home, fall asleep. But this night was different. This night I heard their words. Not the first words, but the final ones.

"This is a new era, Mary Sue," Daddy said. "A young woman can choose more than being a wife and mother. A young woman can choose education and following in her father's footsteps rather than her mother's."

I gripped the year-old copy of First Love and Other Sorrows I'd been reading. I sucked in my breath, held it, and listened. They were fighting ... they were fighting over me. "Don't be asinine, Carroll. Mariette will now join all the social clubs for women of her age and stature. She'll do some volunteer work, I imagine, but she'll also attend parties and teas. This is her time to prepare herself for-"

"Who are you calling 'asinine,' woman?" To my relief, Daddy's voice was not demanding; it was tender and sensual. I released my breath with a sigh.

Mama's voice dropped low. "You, you old bear," she said. Then the rumble of laughter from deep within my father's ample girth. I slid low between the crisp and familiar white sheets. My father had never been (nor would he ever be) a match for my mother when it came to sparring over their children. When not another sound came through the wall, I closed my book, turned out the white milk glass lamp next to my bed, drew a pillow over my head, and went to sleep.

I slept in until ten o'clock the next morning, forced myself out of bed, then traipsed down the stairs and into the kitchen, looking for Mama and a cup of coffee. Instead I found Daisy, Mama's once-a-week help, ironing laundry and humming an old spiritual tune I didn't know the name of; but I certainly knew the melody. I'd been hearing Daisy vacillate between humming and singing it since I was five. "Wheel in a wheel, way in de middle of de air," I sang as a way of greeting her.

"Well, look what the cat done drug out of the bed," she said, shaking her head.

Daisy was a tall, slender woman with mahogany skin and round gray-blue eyes that belied her heritage. Or, at the very least, kept mine in a state of reproach. Her hair was nearly sheared, and no matter what day of the week, she wore large pearl-like earrings that seemed to elongate her earlobes. She was stunning enough to be a movie star but poor enough to be a white woman's housemistress.

I stood before her in my baby pink cotton pajamas that were too short since I had grown another two inches. Mama said I should be done by now, but I'd hit 5'9" not two months ago. I placed my hands on my hips in mock reprimand and said, "I deserve a little rest and relaxation, Daisy. I've been hard at work earning my high school diploma."

"The good Lord never meant us to sleep till the day was nearly half over," she said, pressing the iron hard against one of my father's handkerchiefs, one of those I'd embroidered his monogram along one corner of and slipped into his Christmas stocking six months before.

"Is there any coffee?" I asked, ignoring her reprimand as I often did.

"Will be when you make yourself a pot," she said.

I giggled. "Oh, Daisy. You know I don't know how to make coffee."

"Time you learned," she said. "Grab that pot over there in the drain. I've already washed it once this morning. I reckon I can wash it again."

I reached for the pot and shook out the excess water. "You really want me to make the coffee?" I asked. I looked down at the Timex gracing my wrist. "I'm supposed to meet Daddy at 11:45, and I haven't had a bath yet."

"Then I reckon you'd best hurry and do what I tell you. Now, fill the pot with water up to that there line you see marking for four cups. No, make that six. May as well have myself a cup or two seeing as you're making it."

Later, I dressed in a cotton swing skirt-white, with large luscious slices of watermelon splashed across it-a wide black patent leather belt and a red summer sweater with a satin bow at the shoulder, a pair of nylons and black high-heeled pumps. I pinched my cheeks hard for color as I looked at my reflection in the vanity mirror then raced down the stairs, ready to hop into the new cherry red Chrysler De Soto Daddy and Mama had gifted me with for graduation.

Mama met me with a smile at the bottom of the curving staircase. "What?" I asked, stopping before her, two stairs up from the landing where she stood. "What has you so pleased?"

"I'm just happy to see you dressed like the young lady you are, and not in that tomboyish way you've insisted upon for so long, looking more like an older brother than older sister to the boys."

I stepped to the hardwood floor and turned slowly. "You like? Pretty peachy, huh?"

"Honestly, all these new sayings you children have these days." She briefly touched my ribbon. "I do like this red ribbon."

I gave my hair a light touch. Naturally dark blonde, it reached past my shoulders when straight, but in a flip, as I wore it now, it grazed the top with a light bounce. My hair was an asset, and I knew it. I took great care to brush it repeatedly before bed, to use the best products, and to drench it in egg yolks at least once a month, allowing the yolks to dry to a crisp, stiff mask before rinsing. "Thanks, Mama." I gave her a light kiss on the cheek, wiped off the lipstick imprint of my affection with my thumb, then left my childhood home to begin my life as an adult.

I just didn't know it yet.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from This Fine Life by Eva Marie Everson Copyright © 2010 by Eva Marie Everson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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This Fine Life 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 90 reviews.
Carlybird More than 1 year ago
The description on the back cover of this book is pretty vague, so I really had no idea what to expect or where this story would go. I really liked that about this book because watching this story unfold page by page was so much more enjoyable than knowing the whole story ahead of time. And what a wonderful story this is! I want to keep my review of This Fine Life vague just as the publisher did on the back cover because I think part of the joy of reading this story is not knowing where God will take Mariette next or how he will work in her life. I think one of the things I liked so much about this book is the fact that I could relate to Mariette in so many ways. She is so real and I think a lot of readers will see themselves in her. I got a great deal of comfort from that. I also got a great deal of comfort from Mariette's friend Missy. We all need a friend like her. There were so many other wonderful characters and personalities in this story. I just loved the overall feel of this book. I don't usually care whether a story is told in the first person or the third person, but I am really glad this story is told in the first person. This story being told from Mariette's perspective made it even more intimate, emotional, and real. It just would not have been the same written any other way. I really loved This Fine Life. I just can't say enough good things about this book. There was nothing I did not like. There was not a moment of boredom. The story was never slow. The characters were wonderful. The setting was beautiful. I just loved it! I highly recommend it to anyone. It will definitely go on my favorite books shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A sweet story of young love and the Lord's drawing them close to Him. Passionate yet clean.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Believable characters, heartwarming story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to others. I loved how real the characters actions and interactions with one another seemed, everything felt genuine and not forced.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was not my first read by this author, but definitely the best read. I loved the story and its characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was ok. Some of the things that happened were a little out there but overall it was ok. If only bn would do something to these obnoxious plot spoilers who persist in ruining a book by telling every little detail. It should not be allowed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters are easy to relate to and the story hooks the reader quickly. Set in the late 50s you can see the struggle a young woman faces between following her own path in life while respecting her upbringing and appreciating where she came from.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lovely book, characters you love, wow will be reading more by this author
Debra Buckner More than 1 year ago
Good Story would give this 4 stars
Jennifer Bruschetto More than 1 year ago
As stated by others, this was an easy read. I couldn't put it down! A beautiful story about how the Lord leads you in unexpected ways to blessings greater then you could have ever imagined for yourself.
simshareka More than 1 year ago
I loved this book from beginning to end. Very easy read.
Laura Rolader More than 1 year ago
I loved this novel's twists and turns. Not too racey but just enough romance. Definate good read.
CassWessel More than 1 year ago
"This Fine Life" by Eva Marie Everson Revell, A Division of Baker Books, Grand Rapids, Michigan ©2010 Born into priviledge and educated in a private girls school, Mariette Puttnam faced an uncertain future. In 1959 girls were culturally expected to marry finding fulfillment by boosting their husband's careers. Only a few went to college and those that did usually finished with a Mrs. before their name, not a M.A. after it. Thus when Mariette's father suggested she go to college, her social climbing mother balked. Their disagreement threw the young graduate into a quandary until a chance meeting changed everything. Written in the first person like a diary, "This Fine Life" conveys the challenges Mariette and her loved ones faced. Throughout, she searched for deeper meaning in life, struggled to find faith, became baffled by circumstance, but responded with love, trust and faithfulness. All the while, she wondered where God figured into everything. Her answer came in a climatic roadside event. Eva Marie Everson has written a compelling, page turner that delves into some of the harder issues of life. While it began somewhat slowly, the pace picked up as the plot unfolded. Do not toss this one into the library sale barrel. This book was well worth the read.
AAR More than 1 year ago
THIS FINE LIFE by Eva Marie Everson is an Inspirational Contemporary Fiction set in the 1960's thru the 1970's in the South. It is a great Southern novel. It is well written and written in the first person. It gives us insight into the life of a pastor, wife and family during his first ministry. It is a tender story of growing up and facing reality.The characters are easy to follow, you will feel their lose and their triumphs. It has tragedy, joys, struggles, trials, and Christian values. It starts out a little slow but picks up by the second chapter. This book was received for review and details can be found at Revell and My Book Addiction and More.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
:-) saving, to read again someday
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book cover to cover in one day. I'd read others she'd written, but this was so different and so lovely. A girl who always felt like she was on the outside looking in becomes a pastor's wife and discovers she's part of God's family. Funny, heartwarming and faith filled, you just might find yourself crying and laughing while reading this. Great sweet story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book although a bit draggy at times.
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