Woods begins her Sweet Magnolias
trilogy with this amusing and often poignant story about Maddie, a
wonderful heroine with a rat of an
ex -- so the reader is rooting for
Maddie and Cal every step of the way.

After 20 years of marriage, Maddie Townsend's pediatrician husband wants a divorce. He plans to marry his nurse, who's many years his junior -- and pregnant. Left with three kids to raise and few marketable skills, Maddie's at a loss. Then her two best friends, attorney Helen Decatur and restaurateur Dana Sue Sullivan, tell her they're planning to open a gym/spa for women only, and they want her to be a full partner.

It takes some convincing, but Maddie comes on board. Meanwhile, she's coping with her as-yet-unconsummated attraction to her oldest son's baseball coach, Cal Maddox, and the entire town's reaction to it. Cal's 10 years her junior, and even Maddie's nervous about that! (MIRA, Feb., 400 pp., $6.99)
Reviewed by: 
Catherine Witmer