It’s September 1995, the first year of the rest of Hadley Todd's life. After living in Los Angeles, Hadley returns to her hometown in rural New York to write and be near her father. In addition to looking after him and teaching high school malcontents, Hadley hopes to channel her recent L.A. heartbreak into a play about the last moment of a woman’s innocence. But she seeks inspiration.
Enter Trey Harding, a young, handsome reporter who covers sports at the high school. Trey reminds Hadley of her L.A. ex and is the perfect spark to fire up her imagination. The fact that Trey is an aspiring rock star and she has L.A. record biz connections makes the alliance perfect. She dangles promises of music biz glory while watching his moves. But the surprising twist that transpires when the two of them go to Hollywood is not something Hadley prepared for.
This is well-written and is unfortunately for many an almost realistic story rather than fiction. It isn’t my kind of story. I have impatience with women who sometimes think having a man would make them happy. It’s about a woman who thinks the more she does for someone, the better chance she has that he’ll love her. It’s a story of a lack of self-confidence, but we can all identify with it at one time or another.
I think the dialog between Jude Hopkin’s characters is a little childish for 30+ years old. In fact, parts of this story fit the 30+ woman getting over a past broken relationship and wanting to start a new one with the very same kind of heart-breaker. Then there is an underlying current of the same women acting like young 21-year-olds, being silly, having fun, and wanting to meet someone.
I gave this book 4 stars because sometimes I am of the premise that a book should be judged on the author’s talent. Not whether it’s my type of subject or if I don’t like a character. In other words, not a badly written book, just not my type of story.
read an excerpt...
“Have you ever fallen in love?”
He winked at her. “All the time.”
She’d have the last word, something she realized was important to her. “I think it’s wrong, all these women you lead on. Don’t you? I mean, they may get attached, fall for you. But you seem to use them, to see what you can get out of them for your own purposes. I think that’s wrong, They’re human beings, after all. With feelings.”
He turned around, his eyes drained of any light. “They use me, too. It’s not like they’re not getting anything out of it.”
“What am I getting out of this?” she asked him, if not rhetorically.
He stood on one hip, a move that made him appear more rakish than usual. “I really don’t know, Miss Todd. I wondered that myself. I thought perhaps you were bored or intrigued. Or maybe you’re a control freak.” He took a step toward her so he was within half an inch of her face. “Or maybe you’re just like the rest and can’t resist me.”
Hadley stood her ground. “How do you know when it’s over? The moment when love, or lust, turns into something else. Something not as passionate?”
“I don’t think about it,” he said, returning her gaze. “It’s something that happens. Maybe it’s not one moment. It just is.”
He turned around and walked out of the room.
about Jude Hopkins...
Jude Hopkins has published essays in The Los Angeles Times, Medium, the belladonna—and poetry in various journals including Gyroscope Review, Timber Creek Review and California Quarterly.
It has always been her desire to write. She was featured in Dickinson College’s literary magazine when she was an undergraduate. One poem in particular, “Mixed Metaphors,” contrasted two viewpoints in a lakeside scene: one of a romantic young woman who thought the wind was blowing through her hair like an Aeolian harp; the other, that of her suitor who believed the water looked as cold as hell. Ah, love’s different sensibilities! What she lost in that relationship, she gained from her sojourn at Dickinson, earning her Phi Beta Kappa key while there, as well as a desire to continue her education.
Then it was on to graduate school at Arizona State University where studying for her master’s degree in English and grading essays as a teaching assistant took most of her time (and partying — it was ASU, for Pete’s sake). However, she did have a germ of an idea for a self-help book that she began outlining, fueled by many a Thermos bottle of Dunkin’ coffee.
It wasn’t until she moved to L.A. that she thought about writing a proposal for that self-help book. She got some bites from agents. Top agents. But working three jobs took precedence. (One of those jobs was at a Hollywood record company where she met a Beatle, among other artists.)
When she finally moved back to Pennsylvania, she began seriously writing again, squeezing in time to pen some poems between endless essay grading at one of the University of Pittsburgh’s branch campuses. As an adjunct English instructor, Jude was uncompromising on what she expected from her students, knowing they were capable of achieving great things when challenged, but she tried to balance the hard work with humor. Nevertheless, she knew that discipline and knowledge could turn even the most reluctant student into a pretty good writer. To achieve that end, the cellphones had to be put away, and attention had to be paid. The result? Some model research papers and essays from memorable students (she taught English in Pennsylvania, New York state, California and Arizona).
The need to write something besides comments on student essays gnawed at her. One day, she took out her old self-help book manuscript from a cobwebby drawer and began the process of turning it into a novel. That novel became “Babe in the Woods” and will be traditionally published by Wild Rose Press sometime in 2023. She blogs about that novel, so, readers, please follow her blogs as she updates everyone on the book's progress. Please also check out her essays and poems, also featured herein.