When Julie Holliday believes she is at her weakest, she is really learning to be the strongest she’s ever had to be in her life. In Still Crazy, Judy Prescott Marshall’s immensely likable protagonist has a strong Christian faith and a broken heart, a combination that drives the story and, alternately, Julie herself.
For years, she has suspected her husband Dan of being unfaithful, but she has never been able to find any substantial proof; and Dan vehemently denies any such thing. “You’re crazy,” he tells her … and he tells her often enough that Julie begins to doubt her sanity herself.
Dan, you see, is the love of her life. After 25 years of marriage, the sound of his voice still makes her weak in the knees and she lusts after him with the honest passion of a new bride. Together they’ve built a life, a home, businesses, friendships and a history. Julie doesn’t want to leave any of that.
I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO CHANGE MY PLANS
But panic attacks and bouts of weeping finally convince her that she needs to change things. She’s jealous and suspicious and short-tempered, and she doesn’t like herself. With saintly kindness, armed with a fervent belief in the good Lord, she puts her investments in order, liquidates, and sells off what ties her to her current life and to Dan. Then she leaves.
With admirable competence, she relocates to a sweet town in Rhode Island and buys what she needs to open an inn — a long-time dream of hers. And Dan’s. Despite the almost palpable longing for her husband that torments her day and night, Julie successfully builds her dream, earns a family of friends, and regains the confidence she had thought she’d lost.
Marshall sends an inspirational message in Still Crazy, probably best presented by Julie herself: “I bet far too many people die with a heart that has gone flat and full of indifference,” Julie tells her new friend Teresa. “Life will offer us amazing opportunities; we just have to recognize them.” Ostensibly, she’s talking about the beautiful gardens she’s been cultivating on the land around the inn, but readers will know that Julie is talking about so much more.
ENCOURAGED TO BELIEVE
Not a simple “I-am-woman-hear-me-roar” story, Still Crazy has layers of possibilities: Can Julie love another man? Is her marriage salvageable? Has she completely left behind the people she loved back home? Readers may not know whom to root for — certainly, her friends aren’t sure — and the denouement may be an utter surprise. But most certainly the meaning of the title will morph into something new with each chapter you read.
With blooming gardens and flower arrangements, cupcakes, wedding cakes and gentle cups of tea, Still Crazy satisfies our senses and encourages us to believe in the mightiness of love and the constancy of faith.
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