Welcome to the Great Mysterious (2000)

by Lorna Landvik

Lorna Landvik accumulated a large following of fans who loved the endearing characters and humor in novels such as Patty Jane's House of Curl and The Tall Pine Polka. Humor and likable characters make Welcome to the Great Mysterious, her fourth novel, an enjoyable read even though its plot is predictable.

Broadway star Geneva Jordan is 48, menopausal, and aching from being dumped by her costar and lover, Trevor. Her fraternal twin, Ann, coaxes Geneva back to small-town Minnesota for a month to care for 13-year-old Rich, who has Down syndrome, so Ann and husband Riley can have a much-needed getaway.

It's not to be expected that a childless, self-centered Broadway diva would be a natural with kids, particularly a child with special needs, and Geneva and her nephew have some anxious testing-you moments. But Geneva doesn't have to go it alone: Rich has a best friend, Conrad, a delightful boy who is able to joke about his cerebral palsy. Conrad's mother, Barb, is a steady, caring woman who quickly becomes a close friend. The local mailman, James, a corporate dropout and closet musician, has a daughter almost Rich's age, giving him reason to spend time with Geneva and Rich. There's attraction between James and Geneva, though she's not sure what it means.

Along with finding friends in the small town, the big-city star finds a scrapbook she and Ann created as children. In "The Great Mysterious," as they titled it, they had invited their elders to answer big questions (What is the meaning of life? What is true love?). As Geneva rereads the answers of her parents and grandmother, she reassesses her life — but not so much that she isn't tempted when Trevor reenters the picture and proposes marriage. 

The grounding Geneva regains returning to her roots help her to choose between Trevor and James. Like most everything else in the novel, the choice isn't a surprise, but Welcome to the Great Mysterious is still too heartwarming to leave readers really disappointed.


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