The Lion is In by Delia Ephron

The Lion is InIt had to be a strange sight; three women traveling south from Maryland, one in a wedding dress. Tracee and Lana are best friends; Rita the third is a stranger to them, picked up along side of the road, old enough to be their mother.

The barely-formed goal is to get to Nashville, but before they do, they crash the car outside of the small town of Fairville, N.C., in the middle of the night.

Nearly penniless and needing a place to stay, the three break into an oddly constructed bar for shelter, and there they find a lion sleeping in his cage.

So begins the journey of these three women, all of whom have something to hide and something to escape. Tracee is a kleptomaniac, Lana an alcoholic, and Rita is escaping her husband, a Pentecostal preacher who has convinced her that she has no imagination and little worth.

The cast of characters in Fairville is as unique as they are welcoming. But it’s the lion, really, who provides salvation for these damaged women. Oddly able to “listen” to their confessions, he has a way of silently providing insight and direction.

The Lion is In is laugh-out-loud funny one moment, and heartbreakingly poignant the next — just what you might expect from Delia Ephron, the author/screenwriter of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and You’ve Got Mail.

This is guaranteed to be the feel-good novel of the year. Book clubs will lap it up.

Blue Rider Press/Penguin; ISBN 978-0-39915-848-3; $24.95.

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