Shelter Me – Juliette Fay

Title: Shelter Me
Author: Juliette Fay
ISBN: 0061673390
Pages: 448
Release Date: December 30, 2008
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction
Review: HarperCollins First Look
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the back cover:

After the sudden death of her husband, Janie LaMarche is swamped by the tides of grief and rage. Yet she’s force to confront the onward march of her life by an unlikely cast of interventionists: her two small children, her Ipecac-toting aunt, the “unflinchingly nice” parish priest, and the contractor hired by her husband to build her porch, whose involvement in her family’s life becomes more ingrained with every beam he installs.

Reminiscent of Lolly Winston’s Good Grief, yet imbued with the quirky humane qualities of Anne Tyler’s work, Shelter Me reminds us that the terrain of one’s future is is best navigated with the help of others – even the ones we least expect to call on, much less learn to love.

Shelter Me is the story of a women’s emotional journey after the unexpected death of her husband leaves her a widow with two very young children. After Robby’s death, Janie can barely make it through each day and ends up relying more and more on those around her to help her cope with life.

The cast of characters in Shelter Me is entertaining and probably the best part of the book. There’s Cormac, Janie’s cousin who runs a bakery, and his girlfriend Barb, who Janie calls “Barbie” behind her back. There’s Father Jake, the priest who comforts and listens to Janie, but has his own demons that slowly come to light as he becomes an integral part of her life. Aunt Jude is the zany aunt who Janie relies on more than ever because her mother, Noreen, chose to stay in Italy rather than be with her daughter on her road to re-learning how to live. And finally, there is Tug, the carpenter who Robby hired to build his wife a new porch before his death. These characters are well-written and entertaining, and they help Janie to begin to move on with her life.

Janie herself is also a very interesting character. Though she is depressed, she is also incredibly angry and has a tendency to lash out at people. This has the potential to be an annoyance for the reader, but Fay handles it very well. Janie’s anger is realistic without being irritating. Fay seems to understand the emotions involved with losing a loved one and writes Janie’s emotions incredibly well.

The book itself is a bit long, but is a satisfying read. I’d like to give a big thank you to the HarperCollins First Look program for sending it to me to read – I enjoyed it and would recommend it to any fans of chick lit or women’s fiction. It reminded me a bit of Luanne Rice, so if you are a fan of hers, you will most likely enjoy Shelter Me.


  1. 448 is a bit long and I don’t know if I can sustain a book with so much sadness for so long.

    But your review is great as always…

  2. Sounds like even though it’s a bit long, it’s worth it? I’ll add it to my list.

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