The intrepid women of The Hot Flash Club are back for the holidays, soothing jingled nerves and stressed shoppers in their exclusive spa and celebrating the joys of the season. In her witty and delightfully wisecracking prose, Nancy Thayer tells a heartwarming tale packed with fun, secrets, romance-and an ample dose of good cheer.
When the Hot Flash friends gather at the spa to trim the Christmas tree, they share steaming mugs of hot chocolate, a few laughs, and a vow to make this holiday one to remember. And it is-but not in the cheerful, ho-ho-ho way they expected. Instead, Christmas brings family conflicts, household accidents, plane delays-and that's just the beginning.
After a hazardous holiday season, the women make resolutions that they intend to keep . . . in a perfect world. But life-and their friends and relatives-cause complications. Shirley lends financial support to her boyfriend's schemes, which infuriates Alice, whose own son commits an act she's not sure she can accept. Marilyn travels to Scotland and falls in love, but her octogenarian mother needs her at home. And when Polly and Faye find themselves pitted against each other by a younger woman, an they overcome this clash to make a new, entrepreneurial dream come true? Then real disaster strikes, bringing new challenges and surprising revelations.
Just as every month of the year throws new problems at us all, so too does the end of the year give us the chance to reunite and put these problems
into their proper perspective. And when the Hot Flash Five get together for the holidays, we should expect nothing less than the unexpected
Hot Flash buddies Faye, Alice, Marilyn, Shirley and newcomer Polly beat the postmenopausal blues by chattering, complaining, shopping, eating and laughing their way together through the series' third installment (after TheHot Flash Club Strikes Again). Their would-be picture-perfect holiday season starts out at Shirley's Haven, a thriving spa serving mature New England women. Snowflakes fall and Christmas carols play as the friends decorate the tree. Then sweet-tempered Polly goes home to cook for her vegetarian daughter-in-law and nearly burns down the house; artistic Faye breaks her ankle rushing to pick her granddaughter up at the airport; practical businesswoman Alice finds her family expanding in spite of her misgivings; paleobiologist Marilyn struggles with caring for her elderly mother; and Shirley gives her young boyfriend money to self-publish his novel in the erroneous belief that he'll reciprocate with an engagement ring. More holiday fiascoes follow, from New Year's through Thanksgiving to another Christmas. Thayer creates sympathetic sexagenarians with adoring (if sometimes impotent) lovers, untapped talents and visions of future happiness. Cholesterol-laden binges make for sluggish prose, hot flash jokes pall and contrived scenes spill over with sentiment--yet who could fail to root for the five as they face aging with honesty, determination and a lot of help from their friends?
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 30, 2006
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Excerpt from Hot Flash Holidays by Nancy Thayer
On this early December day, snowflakes sparkled down to earth like granted wishes from a magic wand.
Inside the handsome lounge of The Haven, Yule logs blazed cheerfully in the fireplace, while Presley, Sinatra, and Springsteen sang Christmas carols. Near the long casement windows, five women were looping lights around a Norway spruce so tall they had to use a ladder to reach the highest branches.
"Okay, that's the end of the last string," Marilyn called from behind the fat tree.
"Plug them in," Shirley told her.
Marilyn knelt to fit the plug into the socket.
"Oooooooh!" Shirley, Faye, Alice, Marilyn, and Polly sighed with delight as dozens and dozens of multicolored miniature lights twinkled to life.
"Now," Shirley announced, "for the fun part. How shall we do this?" Shirley was the director of The Haven, but the four other women were her best friends, practically her family, and she wanted to please everyone.
"I think we should all hang the ornaments we brought where we want," Polly suggested.
"But keep in mind," Faye added, "it will look better if the heaviest, biggest ornaments go on the bottom boughs, with the smaller ones on the higher branches." She was an artist, with an artist's eye.
"Yes, but we don't want it to look too perfect," Alice insisted. "We want it to look real."
"Good point, Alice," Shirley agreed. "Perfection, as we all know, isn't real."
"Sometimes it is," Marilyn disagreed, in her thoughtful, vague way. "The horseshoe crab, genus Limulus, for example, is perfect. Its design hasn't changed since the Triassic period, that's two hundred forty-five million years."
"Lovely," Faye said gently, amused. "Still, we really don't want to hang a horseshoe crab on the Christmas tree."
"I suppose not. Although one year we did." Marilyn smiled at the memory. She was a paleobiologist--the others teasingly called her a pale old biologist--and her grown son and her ex-husband were molecular geneticists. "Teddy was nine, and fascinated with crustaceans and fossils, so we bored holes in lots of shells, slipped colored cords through, and hung the tree with crabs, mollusks, and gastropods."
Alice snorted with laughter. "You are so weird!"
"Oh, I don't know," Polly chimed in. "David told me that he and Amy are hanging only homemade decorations on their tree. And my daughter-in-law is such a purist, she'll use only vegetable dyes, natural wood, straw, and such. Afterwards, they'll probably carry the tree outside and feed the entire thing to the goat."
The others laughed. As they talked, they moved back and forth from the tables and couches where the boxes of decorations were set out. Occasionally Shirley dropped another log on the fire.
The spacious room, with its casement windows, high ceilings, and mahogany paneling, seemed to glow with contentment. Once built to house a private boarding school, this old stone lodge had been abandoned for a few years. Then Shirley, with the help of her friends and a few investors, had bought it and opened The Haven, a premier spa and wellness resort with a burgeoning membership and second-floor condos for staff or friends.
She had staff (she had staff! Shirley, who had struggled financially most of her life, got a thrill every time she remembered that). But she hadn't wanted her staff to decorate the Christmas tree, and neither had her friends. They'd wanted to do this together. They'd agreed to bring three boxes of decorations each, and they'd agreed to do it without advance discussion or collaboration, so their choices would be a surprise.
Now they worked quickly, climbing the ladder to adorn the top, stretching left and right, standing back to appraise, kneeling to the lowest branches, murmuring to themselves, exclaiming at what the others had chosen.
Shirley was a sucker for whimsical creatures with smiling faces: elves, snowmen, Santa Clauses, cherubs, fat angels with crooked smiles and tilted halos, fairies with freckles and yarn hair.
Faye had selected expensive glass ornaments: gorgeous faceted stars, elongated teardrops and iridescent icicles, extravagantly striped or translucent balls in gleaming gemstone colors.
Polly loved to cook. She'd baked dozens of gingerbread men and women, sugar-cookie stars, leaping reindeer, trumpets and drummer boys and crescent moons, the absorbing, familiar activity bringing back memories of Christmases when her son was little. She'd decorated them with colored icing, silver balls, and sprinkles of colored sugar, and glued ribbons firmly on the back, for hanging. She'd also strung cranberries and popcorn on fishing wire and bought boxes of candy canes.
Alice, less sentimental and more practical, had chosen thirty of the skin care, cosmetic, and aromatherapy products on sale at The Haven, and tied their lavender boxes with glittering gold and silver bows.