Rosina Lippi's The Pajama Girls of Lambert Square is a lighthearted look at love, family and Southern culture. It is the eighth novel by Lippi, who also writes as Sara Donati, and though her deft characterizations make the book worth reading, she falters in her depiction of small-town Southern life.
John Dodge makes his nomadic living by reclaiming failing businesses. He arrives in Lamb's Corner, S.C., to take over a stationery store. One of the first people he meets is pajama-wearing Julia Darrow, who owns a very successful business selling high-end linens.
Julia has a secret: She's agoraphobic. But Dodge, as he likes to be called, has secrets of his own, and he is on to Julia almost immediately.
Meanwhile, Mayme Hurt, Julia's employee and friend, is determined to resist her attraction to recent arrival Nils Sigridsson. He is with a Swedish car company that has chosen Lamb's Corner as the site of its new manufacturing plant. The townspeople are very welcoming. Times are hard, and jobs have not been easy to find.
In typical Lippi fashion, the novel features an enormous cast. I was thankful that Lamb's Corner is a small town after I realized that the author was determined to introduce every citizen.
The story works well as social commentary and when Lippi focuses on relationships. But its charm is offset by her overdone attempt to mimic Southern dialogue and manners.
Also jarring are the unlikely businesses the main characters own. Lamb's Corner has seen hard times, but Dodge runs a stationery store (think Parker pens), and Julia sells expensive linens. Lippi attempts to explain their success with references to the Internet and customers from Atlanta and Charleston, but it's flimsy.
Despite that, the book is a good-hearted, fun read. Lippi makes the reader like her love-smitten characters and creates happy endings for all.
Holly Fults can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.