Cold, browsing and cults: Observation Notes 62-63 and Reading Note 26

Observation note 62: Brrrrr. I was not dressed for the frigid cold today. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was clad. I had thick cotton tights, a long sleeve top, a tunic, a jacket, socks, shoes and a thick scarf. However, today called for fleece lined tights, wool-lined boots, a thick, triple layered long coat and perhaps a woollen hat with those droopy ear coverings. As I had none of these items, instead of walking around Newcastle, I spent a large part of my day eavesdropping into conversations in coffee shops, admiring the current exhibitions at the art gallery and finding the warmest and quietest corner in the library.

Observation Note 63: Browsing. As I knew that I was only going to be in the library for a few hours, I browsed the shelves looking for something short to read. This is despite carrying in my backpack my current book on the go – the storytelling is always greener on the other side. I am convinced that this is behaviour typical of avid readers. I went by the thickness of book spines and found that I rejected nearly all the books in the library as being too long to read. I couldn’t find any poetry that appealed to me, I had read all the interior design books on offer, and there weren’t any 2021 Mills & Boons on the shelf. As an aside, the library’s non-fiction section is genrefied and I found Susan Orlean’s The Library Book in True Crime which surprised me. True Crime??? I mean, Orleans is investigating a fire but I would have gone with History myself. I like the surprise of other people’s categorisations.

After a short librarianlicious while, I finally found the graphic novel section. Jackpot!

Reading Note 26: Cult. I ended up spending the morning reading Marianne Boucher’s Talking to Strangers: A memoir of my escape from a cult . This is the story of how, in 1980, while she was only 18, Boucher became a member of a religious cult in Los Angeles. Boucher’s retelling of the brainwashing she was subjected to, her mother’s measured and calm response in safely extricating her daughter from the cult, and Boucher’s continued struggle with her sense of herself, her terrifying experiences and her responses to other people was steeped with intensity. Graphic novel memoirs are one of my favourite (sub)genres and this one certainly was a gripping read.

Not all days are reading (or writing) days

I had an unexpected road trip to the city of Newcastle today. Hubs and I left the dogs in the care of our sons and headed out early in the morning. Newcastle is an approximately 3 hour drive north of Sydney. I’m only here for two days however it is the first time I have ever been here so I spent the day walking around rather than reading. I forgot to take photographs of the city itself but I did manage to take a couple of photographs. The first is of the mouth of the Hunter River looking across to Stockton. The second is of the Pacific Ocean taken from Newcastle Beach. I have a rubbish old phone with a rubbishy camera which takes rubbishy unfocused photographs. My family tells me that the technology is not to blame. Operator error and all that.

Enjoy!

Looking out to Stockton. The horizon is uneven. Sun is glaring through dark clouds.
A landscape photograph. Blueish cloudy sky, blue steel like Zoolander ocean with a sandy shore. 3 surfers bobbing in the water.

Mail order brides: Reading Note 25

This post is one that has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of years.

Reading Note 25: Mail Order Brides. There is something striking about taking a romance fiction trope and juxtaposing it against real life narratives of the same trope (can real life be a trope???). Earlier in the year, I concurrently read Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test at the same time as I read Dr Panayota Nazou’s Promised Brides: experiences and testimonies of Greek women in Australia (1950-1975).

You would be hard pressed to find a Sydney-based tertiary-educated Greek-Australian who does not know Dr Nazou who taught Modern Greek at the University of Sydney for four decades. I also know Panayota personally as it was she who convinced me to not drop out of university back in 1989, spending the best part of Christmas Day talking to me while I cried in my bedroom. To say that I have a high regard for her is an understatement. Her Brides research has been ongoing for many years. I originally read her Greek publication, I have attended the exhibitions on the brides that were interviewed and now the English translation of her book brings another level of depth to the experiences of women who married men they did not know. Dr Nazou undertook interviews with Greek mail order brides from the 1950s – 1970s. Her interviews bring out the anxieties of poverty stricken women whose parents or relatives arranged marriages for them in a country at the opposite end of the world. Where in romance fiction, communication blocks are broken down to emerge to a happy ending, these promised brides, only one of them has a happy marriage. Of nearly thirty stories, underlying even the relatively acceptable relationships is a sense of loss of their agency. So many women who married strangers because they knew it was the only way out of poverty for their families.

Helen Hoang’s The Bride Test is an “arranged” marriage for a green card trope – a Vietnamese bride is travelling to California to meet the USian-born groom who is the son of a woman she met in Vietnam. I liked the highlighting of cultural differences between people of the same heritage but with the difference that being part of a diaspora brings. This especially struck me in the opening chapters, where the main character Mỹ chooses an American name for herself, Esme. This annoyed me throughout the book and I was so pleased at the end of the book that she rejected this prevalent custom of Anglicising one’s name. It takes a lot to push back on this expectation (hey! I know because I have been pushing back on this all my life) and she reverts to her own name. Interestingly, the American born (Vietnamese heritage) hero comfortably carries his Vietnamese name.The Bride Test has all the elements of a good romance – the tension build, the world build around the characters, issues of trust and understanding how people relate to one another as well as how they shift their expectations to make way for one another. I really enjoyed it.

Reading The Bride Test alongside Panayota Nazou’s Promised Brides meant that I couldn’t hide in the fictitious world of happy outcomes. The reality is often another terrible story of the way migrant women can be left without the security of a family tied to someone they would never have chosen through their own free will. I am left saddened by both books.

Added today: I realise that I hadn’t posted this back in early 2019 because I wanted to write at length, especially about Nazou’s book. I haven’t had the chance to return to it and I really wish I had taken more notes upon my first reading of it. Perhaps I will repost on it when I get a chance to reread it (once I get it back from whoever borrowed it from me!).

Place and Pandemic: Reading Note 24 and Observations 61

Here is another post I started writing last year in about August. I haven’t changed it too much but I have brought some of my thoughts into the present tense.

Reading note 24: A sense of place. Last year I read Nora Krug’s graphic novel memoir Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home. Krug moved from Germany to New York, married a Jewish man and starts exploring her self and her family history especially since her family did not engage in telling stories of their parents, grandparents and other family members. Krug goes on a search to understand what it meant to be German, and to find her family’s history, their role in World War II and what it means to her now living in America. At I was reading Krug’s memoir, I also viewed Unorthodox on Netflix. The mini-series is loosely based on Deborah Feldman’s memoir by the same name. The main character Esty has grown up in a Hasidic Jewish community in New York and escapes to Berlin, Germany is order to find her own place in the world, for Esty it was a need to escape the constraints of her family history, For Nora Krug, she wanted to know the constraints she was unaware of.. I really loved how these two stories are reflections of each other and how each person’s own life explorations can work at opposites so as to reach similar goals. However, it is Krug’s work which most keenly stays in my mind.

Krug talks about the concept of Heimat – which she describes as a small defined place where you feel comfortable. Having a sense of belonging to a place. This is a theme that I often read in interviews and biographies of people who return to an ancestral home or village. It is the whole premise of the show Who do you think you are?  It is like a return to a place they didn’t even know they were missing. “Heimat” seems to be slightly different in that Krug explores these feelings by finding photographs, visiting the plot of land that once was her father’s, and in delving into the uncomfortable truths of people who live through wars and autocracies. She asks her father on whether he feels guilty about Germany’s past and his answer really struck me. He says “No. I just felt terrified at the thought of what people are capable of doing to one another.” This is how I have been feeling for nearly five years. This sense of despair at the complicity, if not their endorsement, of authorities who enable so many individuals to feel comfortable in committing violences (physical, mental and symbolic). My worry is that somehow no one will ever hold them accountable to their actions. It all seems never-ending. Nora Krug learns some truths about her father that are uncomfortable yet not insurmountable and she finds her own way of making sense of his actions and their impact to others and their impact on her. Eventually, Krug ask a question that often turns over in my mind. The sliding doors question “who would we be as a family if the war had never happened”. Who would I be if my parents hadn’t been orphaned and impoverished by the consecutive wars in Greece during the 1940s. But even further back, who would I be if my grandmother had not been orphaned in 1918.

Observation 64: Pandemic. Just over 100 years, my grandmother, who was 17 years old at the time, lost her mother to the Spanish flu. Unfortunately, her father had died of appendicitis only a few months earlier, leaving her orphaned and with the care of her two younger sisters, a 4 year old and a 1 year old. My grandmother’s paternal uncle begrudgingly took in all three girls. The 4 year old he adopted out to a Romanian family living in Trikala, but no one would take the baby. He set my grandmother to work in his pig sty, where she cared for the pigs and for her baby sister. Meanwhile, my grandmother’s older sister was on a ship to the USA having left her family before either of her parents had died, and she expected them to follow her with her sisters in the months to come. My poor great-aunt. None of her family ever arrived. It wasn’t until three years later, possibly in 1921, that she heard that her parents had died. Though she instinctively knew something had gone wrong for her parents and sisters to not have arrived, she was devastated. My grandmother didn’t see her sister again until 1970. The pandemic was disastrous for my grandmother and all of her 3 sisters. They were impoverished and abandoned, growing up far from each other and in difficult circumstances.

My father too, had his life impacted by a pandemic. His parents would tell him that on the day he was born in 1928, he brought the curse with him. On that day, my grandparents lost all 500 sheep and goats to a plague. Overnight they went from comfortable farmers to being poverty stricken, being left with one goat, a newborn and their 3 older children.

It took two generations for my family to recover from these plagues and pandemics. Where Nora Krug asks “who would we be as a family if the war had never happened”, I also ask this question. Where would I be and had my grandmother not been orphaned? Had my grandparents not lost all their livelihood? Would I still be living in Greece? Would my grandmother have joined her sister in the United States? Would my father have remained on his remote mountain and continued farming sheep and goats? I certainly hope not.

I deeply feel for my parents who were so impacted by poverty and war that they could no longer stay in their homes but I am uncomfortably grateful that my parents had to migrate to Australia. It is a deeply faulted country but thankfully our pandemic response has, at this point anyway, kept the national death rate low by locking down, closing the borders, increasing contact tracing and requiring people who do arrive from overseas to quarantine for two weeks. But keeping the national borders shut to stave off the pandemic is not sustainable in the long term. I went and had my vaccination shot over two weeks ago as I truly feel that it is the only way forward. I want to be around for my (already adult) sons. I am so deeply saddened by those who have lost family and friends, and those who are only now starting to emerge from over a year long isolation in order to keep themselves safe. The grief and unsureness of emerging from their cocoons. My own family came out of lockdown by the end of last year – all of us quite changed. And  I cannot help but wonder how this is going to affect my sons and whether in the future they too will ask “who would we be as a family if this pandemic had never happened”.

Rage and role models: Observation Note 60 and Reading Notes 22-23

Observation Note 60: Here’s one I prepared earlier. Over the years I have started many a blog post just to leave it in my drafts unpublished. Study, family, work – a number of responsibilities have always kept me from completing posts. Since I decided to blog every day in June I thought it would be a good opportunity to post some of those drafts as well as books that I have read over the years. I know that it will make for a bit of disjointed reading. I was hoping for my observations and notes to link in and refer to each other but it might take me a while to get into writing posts with interlinking ideas. Meanwhile, over the next month I will list some books that I have enjoyed over the past few years that I have not managed to post about. The scant few people who follow ShallowReader on Instagram or GoodReads may have already seen me discuss some of the ones I will highlight. Here are two for today which are kind of in the same genre as Vivian Gornick and Elizabeth Cady Stanton from my previous notes and observations this week.

Reading Note 22: How deep is your rage. I read Mary Beard’s Women and Power: A Manifesto over a month ago. Mary Beard traces the origins of Western history’s misogyny from Homer’s Odyssey through the millennia to the contemporary era, showing how women have been excluded from civic life with “public speech being defined as inherently male”. The book is made up of two essays, both adaptations of keynote speeches Beard made in the 2010s. Beard is a classist and a historian and her writing style is engaging and clear. She argues that women should not try to be more like men but instead, we should be challenging societal structures so that we can place a higher value on female traits. In showing many examples of women being silence, Beard in her second essay, goes full circle and starts examining the ways that women were found to have their voices heard.

I became especially engrossed in Fulvia, the first living woman to have her image on Roman coins, who repeatedly stabbed the dead Cicero’s tongue for having silenced her in the past. I had never heard of Fulvia before, but I felt like I understood the sheer, burning anger that she must have had, especially in light of the belligerent dismissal and the continued perpetuation of silencing Australian women’s voices protesting the rape culture in our parliament. If you are unaware of the reason for all the women’s marches around Australia, a quick internet search should bring up our heinous government’s attitude towards women. Even this week, the continued dismissal of Brittany Hughes who was raped within the Australian parliament continues to make me rage rage rage (but not so much that I would stab at a dead tongue).

Reading Note 23: Model reader. I read Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s We Should All Be Feminists which is the speech she made for her TED talk in which she discusses the importance of feminism and the institutional marginalisation of women and, frankly how to understand these issues and work toward making changes. The thing that especially stood out for me in my reading of this short essay is that, just like Ayaan Hirsi Ali in Infidel, and Alice Munro, and I am sure many other writers, Ngozi Adiche read a lot of Mills & Boon novels. I feel that this is good company to keep.

Football and translation: Observation notes 57-59

Observation note 57: Football crazy. I went to the movies with my family tonight. This is a rare occurrence in this age of streaming on our own devices. The last time all four of us went to the films together was when I wanted to watch Bridget Jones’s Baby a few years back. This time, in a similar vein, we watched King Otto with its fabulous byline of “Ancient Greece had 12 gods. Modern Greece has 11”. The movie is a sports documentary about the German coach Otto Rehhagel, his bilingual assistant coach Ioannis Topalidis and the Greek National Football Team winning the Euro 2004 Cup.

Observation note 58: Football mad. My family is totally and utterly football mad. They watch at all hours, they are members of their team, Sydney FC, they go nuts in the member’s cove, they travel nationally and internationally to see their teams play and frankly it all got a bit intense several years ago when my eldest, unfortunately, was seriously assaulted at a derby game. These apples of my eye have not fallen all that far from my tree as I was football mad in my youth too with the ultimate kudos of having sat directly in front of Maradona (who was in the member’s box) at a local game in Sydney. I am a potty-mouthed fishwife at the football as I forget myself and start heckling the teams (my sons never realised the reason I read books during games is not because I am bored but because I get so intensely enraged in the game I forget my manners at home). I too come from an apple orchard as my father was in love with the game and was one of the (many) founders of PanHellenic in Sydney in the 1950s. Though a religious man who taught at his parish’s Sunday School, he was so mad for football, that when the leaders of the church Sunday Schools asked him to give up his role with his football team as they felt he was a bad example the the children, my dad quit going to church instead. So it was only apt that we went to see this movie.

Observation note 59: Football it has robbed her of the little bit of sense she had. Though the movie on the surface is about how Greece, the most underrated and the underdog team of Europe won the cup, it actually is about how the strength of an excellent translator (On first looking into Chapman’s Homer anyone???), who has deep knowledge of two very different languages and cultural mores, was able to bring an understanding between a German coach and a Greek football team. Throughout the movie, I was on the edge of my seat. Despite knowing the outcome, the narrative is told so well that the tension of each game is palpable, each goal thrilling, every emotional celebration fulfilling. The hero of this movie is not only the coach and the team members, but the extraordinary Ioannis Topalidis who brings a deep cultural understanding to his role of translator and assistant coach. I loved the way the language barriers were depicted in this movie, and even more so how the barrier was overcome which led to the best of German and Greek cultures being blended. Topalidis and Rehhagel seem to have a wonderful relationship (dare I say this was a bromance movie) with King Otto’s ending being reminiscent of Casablanca. I loved it. This may be because of my Greek heritage. But then again, it may just be because it is a story well told.

Suffrage, Loneliness and a Touch of Irony: Reading Note 21 and Observation Note 56

Reading Note 21: Alone. As memoirs on reading are wont to do, Vivian Gornick’s Unfinished Business is sending me down many rabbit holes, seeking her references so I can read deeper, to understand her with more context*. Gornick in her discussion of the trajectory of women’s rights comes across Elizabeth Cady Stanton who had been the President for the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association in the late 19th century. I took a moment tonight to listen to Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s non-fiction essay The Solitude of Self, this essay was her last public speech before standing down from her position. Gornick writes that Stanton had become incredibly lonely because the “fight for suffrage had grown steadily more conservative”. This loneliness though gave Stanton clarity and understanding about the human condition and what it means to be alone even if you are in a deep relationship. Alone giving birth, alone in the world, alone when you die. She says that “the solitude of the King on his throne and the prisoner in his cell differs in character and degree but it is solitude nevertheless” and she stresses how necessary it is for women to have the tools and skills and knowledge to manage their lives and not to lean into their husbands so much that if they are alone they cannot move forward. 

Observation Note 56: Suffrage. I take a moment to think about both Gornick and Stanton. Their feminist ideology was echoed to me from a young age by my father who insisted that we (his four daughters) study and work and be completely independent. I remember how he would always size up our male friends and ask them cringe-worthy questions about their life plans (despite our insistence to him that they were friends and not love-interests). One of our friends was training to be a doctor and dad spent a good hour talking to him (whereas we had left the room as we got rather bored by their conversation). The moment our friend left, Dad turned to us and said (I’m paraphrasing) “I certainly hope none of you are interested in that young man. He told me that he wants a university educated wife but once they marry he doesn’t want her to work, she will need to stay at home and clean and cook for him. Keep away from such men”.

Great vetting skills from my dad. I feel like he may have read Elizabeth Cady Stanton in his own reading journeys.

*I am well aware of the irony of seeking depth in light of my Shallowreader moniker. But hey – I grew up singing along to snowy, cold Christmas songs in the midst of stinking hot summers. I embrace my contradictions. 

There is a copy of The Solitude of Self available on Project Gutenberg, however I cheated and listened to the LibriVox Youtube recording while I washed the dishes. Even the staunchest feminist needs to clean up at the end of the night.

Names, Influence and Missed Moments: Observation notes 54 – 55 and Reading notes 19-20

Observation note 54: Ire. This is post is a vent.

Reading note 19: Names. In Unfinished Business: Notes of a re-reader, Vivian Gornick discusses her feelings on being a couple and that she “flinched when addressed as Mrs”. This is something that I keenly understood as I have never used the title despite being married now for 25 years. Even before I married, I was ticking the Ms. box as it just annoyed me that men got the standard Mr. and women had three choices, all of which sent quite clear messages to whoever was collecting your information (as trivial or disinterested as they may be by the selection). What surprises me is that I am the outlier here.

Reading note 20: Wait! This is influence?! A couple of days ago I wrote about Lauren Layne’s Marriage on Madison Avenue and that the main character was a social media influencer. I wrote that I have little interest in such a person let alone a fake such a person but what the book did for me was have a narrative against which I could compare the many years of watching a variety of people I knew posting their planning for their nuptials to the point of tedium. Reading about a character doing this added another level of tedium which may have contributed to my lethargic two week reading of the novel. I had to remind myself that the circus of wedding planning brings out the crazy in people who I used to like.

Self-flagellating note to state that it brought out the crazy in me too…mostly because I hated the whole process.

Observation note 55: Missed moment. A few months ago, someone I know, someone who I used to think was lovely and sweet and beautifully friendly, posted on their social media that she was “Miss to Mrs” and “rebranding in process”. I cringed and I felt saddened that despite decades and decades of women rallying to not be objectified, here was someone who willingly was choosing to be “rebranded”. However, this is not what made me angry. Disappointed – sure but people can do whatever they like in their life. But feeling angry – I left that for the wedding reception, upon looking at the list of guests so I can find the table I was seated at, I found that “Miss to Mrs Rebranded” chose to change my name from the e-RSVP database and bestowed upon me my husband’s surname. A name I have never used. A name that I don’t identify with at all. The rage I felt in that moment was red, it was hot, it made me want to flip tables. If this is what “influencers” think they can bestow upon people, changing their name and their title at will, then rage I will. A few years ago, another lovely young woman who married a family friend whispered to me “I desperately wanted to keep my name but [name redacted] wouldn’t let me. It offended him”. I am offended for her. I am angry beyond comprehension, to the point of my vision blurring.  Perhaps this is why I am struggling in my reading of romance fiction especially. All I can think is of young obsequious women going from Miss to Mrs and forcing everyone else to do it too.

Vivian Gornick can cringe with me. 

Readers and Languishing: Reading notes: 17 and 18

Earlier today, I saw long-time Twitter friend Flexnib post that she is going to try to do BlogJune just like in the olden blog days. I have decided to try to post every June day too and I thought I would start simply, resurrecting my Reading and Observation notes, a style of writing which I have previously used and I find particularly enjoyable.

Reading Note 17: Other readers. I’ve just finished reading Vivian Gornick’s Unfinished Business: Notes of a chronic rereader. I first heard about Gornick pre-pandemic, 18 months ago on Miss Bates Reads Romance where Kay reviewed Fierce Attachments, a book that continues to sit unopened on my bedside bookshelf. I managed to borrow three of Gornick’s books from the library and I wanted to start with her book on rereading so that I can get an insight into who she was and what her book choices mean to her. I enjoyed Unfinished Business, this collection of essays has her rereading and reconnecting to books that she has loved many years ago. Her revisiting of each text finds her either loving or rejecting the book as she delves deeply into the characters driving each novel. Gornick is not writing an analysis of these books, but instead, she is relating her own life through her reflections of her rereads. Each essay was detailed and interesting but I was increasingly annoyed that her choices were all tragedies – stories where everyone grapples with life’s difficulties and love is attained and lost. I kept wanting Gornick to choose something more edifying, something with happier outcomes, something that could mix up her reading choices rather the the predictable stalwart classics. Right at the end though, she has a short essay on about a “cheap 1970s paperback” that falls apart when she takes it into her hand. Gornick relishes in her material experience of the pages falling out one-by-one and how she salvages this unnamed book by slowly reading through it again, marking the pages as she ordered them, and bounding the book with a rubber-band. Gornick doesn’t name the books and I am so curious. I would love to know the name of the one book that she doesn’t name. My guess is that it is something along the line of Kathleen E. Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower.

Reading Note 18: Languishing. Vivian Gornick discusses being “unreceptive” to a book, just not in the right mood to read it; not “in a a state of readiness”. Well that is how I have been feeling lately about all fiction reading. I pick up a novel and I either give up just a few chapters in, turned off the book for something as trivial as the name of a character, the description of a sofa, or an internal thought that I am just not interested in reading. This sense of fiction ennui is not what I want to be feeling and I hope it doesn’t last for too much longer. Meanwhile, I will continue reading memoirs and I will post about my thoughts on them here.

Vivian Gornick’s Unfinished Business, Fierce Attachments and The Odd Woman and the City have all been borrowed from a NSW public library.

The fairytale, marriage and another fun read

I’m over 10 days late for this month’s TBR challenge having completely missed posting for March and April’s TBR. The May topic being Fairytale/Folktale and my connection to the theme is a bit of a tenuous stretch and only mentioned briefly towards the end of this post. As for how long this book has been on my TBR, I’m just going to say that I have borrowed it three times, with a three month loan period (inclusive of renewals), and I only managed to read it at the tail end of this latest loan.

A lilac shadow shaped like skyscrapers in a city as a backdrop, with a cartoon bride holding open a yellow taxi door which just doesn't make sense because there was no taxi in the wedding scene.

Book: Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne  (the third in the ˆ series) 

The Blurb: Can guys and girls ever be just friends? According to Audrey Tate and Clarke West, absolutely. After all, they’ve been best friends since childhood without a single romantic entanglement. Clarke is the charming playboy Audrey can always count on, and he knows that the ever-loyal Audrey will never not play along with his strategy for dodging his matchmaking mother—announcing he’s already engaged…to Audrey.

But what starts out as a playful game between two best friends turns into something infinitely more complicated, as just-for-show kisses begin to stir up forbidden feelings. As the faux wedding date looms closer, Audrey and Clarke realise that they can never go back to the way things were, but deep down, do they really want to?

This is the final instalment to the Central Park Pact series.

How did I find this book: Lauren Layne has become an auto-read author for me since Dr Jayashree Kamblé recommended her novel Walk of Shame to me several years ago.

Meet Cute: A bit of series backgrounding first: this is a trilogy with the protagonists of each book, Audrey, Claire and Naomi having dubiously met at the funeral of their (yes – plural THEIR) dead boyfriend a couple of years earlier, having discovered that they had all been duped (ahem sleeping with) the same man. On the day of his funeral (no – they didn’t kill him), the three discover that they weren’t his only girlfriend/wife. Though horrified by their own role in being “the other woman”, they forge an unlikely friendship where they look after each other – especially when it comes to finding their true love as they all now, understandably, have trust issues. Claire and Naomi in this book are already paired up which leaves Audrey to find her love match. 

Continue reading