Earthy Pleasures is a delightful book unlike anything I've ever read. It's difficult to describe. At first, I would have said it was the intersection of chick lit and science fiction, but the more I read, I saw the novel went far deeper than simply chick lit and involved a bit of a mystery as well. (I don't mean to malign chick lit; I enjoy it, but my definition of chick lit is lighthearted. If it's weighty, it veers into literary fiction or contemporary (or historical) fiction for me. Simply having a main female characters or characters, or being written by a woman, does not make it chick lit.) Earthly Pleasures first introduces us to Heaven (the place). It's a fascinating idea of what heaven would be like, but as you might expect, the recently dead often have trouble adjusting to a place where they can have anything they want. Skye, our heroine of sorts, is a greeter in heaven; she helps new arrivals deal with their transition.
Just as I was enjoying the idea of a future WishBerry, which instantly delivers anything you desire, a new chapter from another point of view would begin. I soon realized this story was going someplace deeper. Indeed, it explores the connections between heaven and earth, and the living and the dead. I didn't find it to have a religious bent, and I'm still not quite sure how seriously I should take the novel, but I did thoroughly enjoy it. It was part escapist, but it was also thought provoking. Neches danced around a lot of issues, and I think plenty of readers could enjoy it and not dwell on it. I, however, keep thinking about it. The book itself has several humorous moments and is not necessarily weighty, but it certainly deals with weighty issues, albeit sometimes in a lighthearted manner. At the end of the book, I'm still a little unsure what the author's intentions were. I was certainly entertained, and there was a strong sense of seriousness as well. I'm curious how much of my reaction to the book was intended and how much is just me. The book is certainly smart and witty, and I loved it. If you're in the mood for a captivating, unique, partially science fiction read, then this book is for you. Karen Neches has a Web site, mostly devoted to Earthly Pleasures too.
Rating: 4.25 stars (out of 5)
Source: my local public library