A gentleman from Australia wrote and posted a lovely review of Book #5 of THE HANDYMAN SERIES, The Handyman’s Summer, on Good Reads. It never ceases to amaze mr how the good reviews always seem to come when I need them the most. You know, when life has been rather on the sucky side, and I’m convinced I have NOTHING to contribute to the world. This made my day. A friend suggested I share it here, and I thought, Why not? I do hope the reviewer doesn’t mind. If you do, sir, let me know and I’ll delete this.
I seem to be ageing faster than the MCs in this great series! I was in my early forties when I first came across this delightful small-town romance between a handyman and a postie and these guys didn’t seem all that different in life-stage to me then. Fast forward 12 plus years and now i find I’m just past my mid-fifties and yet Ed and Rick are yet to hit their forties – eck!
I enjoyed catching up with the MCs and their extended group of family, friends & colleagues, besties, neighbors, townsfolk … despite some having passed on, it’s nicely reassuring to find life is sloooowly improving socially and economically for Ed and Rick. However – since we’ve now reached the latter part of the 1980s … the ugly specter of AIDS/HIV has now reached into their circle/community; and homophobia (both external and internal) still reigns over social justice, equality and acceptance of difference. That said, our MCs continue to take on the mantle passed on from their beloved English teacher Hilda Penfield by providing acceptance, encouragement and shelter to younger townsfolk from the LGBTIQ family; ‘expanding the borders of their tent’ in fact.
A ‘cold-case’ mystery regarding the demise of two ostracized persons comes to the fore when Ed and Rick take possession of an abandoned/derelict home (I was quite devastated by the heart-breaking and tragic story-line that unfolded). And for those who have a yen for the days of the penultimate decade of the twentieth century – there’s lots of mention of music/songs of the day (the Bangles!), boom-boxes, videos, even Nancy Reagan gasp!
There seems to be one more book in the series and I’d better get onto reading that before I age into my twilight years/dotage LOL! 4 solid stars.
My Aussie reviewer mentions The Bangles in the review posted above, and yes, a passing reference to their hit “Walk Like An Egyptian” is made early in The Handyman’s Summer. I still get a kick out of that record, but my all-time favorite Bangles song didn’t come out until 2003, “Something That You Said.” I was the music director of a Soft Rock radio station at the time, and I played the hell out of it, hoping it would become a huge hit. Alas, the record company pulled the plug on promotion, and it died a quiet death over Christmas, 2003.
Fifteen months later I was in Provincetown, MA, to attend a writer’s workshop. My first full day there I was browsing through a book store with some of the other attendees when much to my surprise and delight “Something That You Said” began to play on the radio station piped into the store’s speakers. “I cannot believe I am actually hearing this song on the radio,” I said to one of the proprietors. “Things like that happen in P-Town,” the man said with a shrug. Later that day, when it was my turn to share something from a work in progress, I read aloud the scene from The Handyman’s Dream where Ed and Rick swap senior prom stories. By the end I had two of the men at the tables in tears. I had finished the first draft of the book, and frankly I didn’t know if it was any good or not, but at that moment I began to believe Handyman Ed had a place in gay fiction. Seventeen years and five books later, I’m glad the world got to know him.