Why I love, and kind of need, Wine Wednesday + “Pretty Baby” by Mary Kubica


Yes, today is Thursday. But I’m going to talk about Wednesday. Specifically, Wine Wednesday.

Just about every week I get together with one of my good friends who happens to live in the neighborhood, usually on Wednesday. We open a bottle of wine, turn on the t.v., and chill.

It started with a lofty goal: to get together and do mini wine tastings, hopefully with cheese, fruit, and chocolate.

Sometimes the food makes an appearance. Sometimes its a new wine. Often it is a favorite we found that we want to share.

Usually we have one or two glasses. But sometimes its one or two bottles, depending on the week.

We vent and whine and complain about our children and our spouses. About neighborhood misdeeds and people who set our teeth on edge a bit. We gripe and moan about our week.

But it’s not all about the whine (or the wine).

We also laugh about ourselves and our own missteps. We celebrate the successes in our lives, the victories and the achievements of our children, the accomplishments of our husbands. We giggle about ridiculousness.

During the school year we watch reality TV shows (whatever has been recorded) — Dancing with the Stars, The Voice, American Idol. In the summer we watch baseball (she’s a big Cincinnati Reds fan), movies, or silly sitcoms.

But it’s more than each of these things individually. For me, the girl without a sister and with no family nearby, it reminds me of what my mom had while I was growing up. See, we grew up in town with my mom’s family nearby; her mother and two sisters. She would meet them at least weekly for coffee or dinner. That was their ‘Wine Wednesday,’ and they vented and celebrated to their hearts content.

I’ve always wanted that, a sister or a person that would be there for all of life’s ups and downs. My mom lives too far away (we talk on the phone, of course, but it’s not the same), and all my other female relatives live too far away. So my Wine Wednesday cohort has become my relative, whether she likes it or not.

So, for those that ask (and they do ask) if we drink wine every Wednesday, the answer is yes, pretty much (although sometimes its Tuesday or Thursday, and there are weeks we miss altogether because of illness or crazy schedules). But it really isn’t all about the wine. It’s about the friendship and carving out time for that friendship. It’s about leaving the family behind for a little while, shedding the mom/wife noose for a bit, and becoming just women, just friends.

In the end, these couple of hours a week make me a better wife and mother, because it gives me a chance to bring out the other part of myself. A part that gets suppressed a bit in motherhood and marriage. A piece of me that needs to see the light of day every once and awhile.

So, whether it be wine or coffee, I will take this time most weeks and enjoy friendship.

Thank you, Wine Wednesday cohort.

Read on for my take on Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby.

When the right circumstances converge, can a mother on the brink of madness hold onto sanity? Can a young girl trying to survive keep it together? Or will they both fall into darkness, taking those they love along for the ride?

The Premise

When Heidi Wood sees the girl on the train platform in the rain, clutching a baby to her chest, Heidi is concerned. But she gets on her train and head to her warm, safe Chicago home, leaving her to fend for herself in the rain.

At home, Heidi goes about the business of raising her pre-teen daughter and making sure her husband has clean clothes for his business trips. The next day, she goes to her job as a social worker for immigrants, and sees the girl again, in the rain, with the baby.

Eventually she gets involved with the girl, providing her with meals and eventually a place to stay. As the girl, Willow, settles in with the baby, Ruby, her past comes into question.

As does Heidi’s past, where we learn she lost her chance at a large family when she developed cervical cancer and had to have a total hysterectomy while she was pregnant with her second child. Her strained marriage and a daughter who needs her less and less cause Heidi to cling to the baby more and more.

As both Heidi and Willow fall apart bit by bit, the mystery of Ruby deepens, and Willow’s past is revealed. But can it all be put together in time to save Heidi and her family as well as Willow and Ruby?

That’s the question.

My Thoughts

Pretty Baby is a complex thriller with twists and turns to delight lovers of the darkest of thrillers. Kubica does a wonderful job with this multi-layers story, creating drama on many levels.

With alternating voices, Kubica gives the reader insights on all sides of this story, creating facets that make an even deeper tale.

The characters are deeply flawed and darkly complex, and the writing is top-notch.

Four stars. Nice job.


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