Riddled with surprise from its opening lines, Jeannette Murray’s “Mrs. Myers: Act I” is a delightful read as well as a demanding one. Through her heroine, Lydia Myers, Jeannette creates a female protagonist who is wealthy, educated, cultured and well-traveled, yet completely relatable and down-to-earth. Lydia takes shape on the page as a familiar, a friend, or, quite possibly, the woman we see in the mirror each day.

Married 10-plus years to a prestigious New York attorney, it appears Lydia has it all: clothes, shoes, accessories, college-age children, multiple homes, exotic vacations and exclusive membership in many sought-after circles. Certainly Lydia’s status presents an impressive dossier. Yet, readers are quick to recognize that there is more to Lydia than her list of party invitations, philanthropic endeavors and industrious hobbies.

The woman who has it all is incredibly unhappy. Lydia’s growing angst transcends the empty nest syndrome her husband suspects. She is more than “bored.” Lydia is lonely. Her full life has left her empty. When her husband’s suspicious behaviors become more flagrant, Lydia makes a choice to give herself the space to consider her next move, to deliberate over the next years in her life.

Through a series of unexpected events, Lydia finds herself on a plane to Paris for a monthlong reset. With her paintbrush in hand and her running shoes ready, Lydia begins the arduous task of self-examination with a beautiful city as her backdrop. “Lydia awoke to golden rays streaming through the double doors ... This was an entirely new city, bathed in light, freshly scrubbed, vibrant with color … She wasn’t about to waste a minute of this glorious day. She owned Paris and it was all hers …”

The majority of this book, the first in her Mrs. Myers trilogy, takes place in “the City of Lights” while Lydia wrestles with the hardest questions we face: What am I going to do with myself? Where am I going in my life? What is the purpose of me?

About her protagonist, Jeannette describes, “I wanted to write about a woman who broke away from the traditional roles as wife and mother and empowered herself to rewrite the script of her life.”

For women, Jeannette wants her series “to help women realize they are powerful, they do not need to settle, they can take chances, they do not have to stay in unhappy marriages, they can change and rewrite the scripts of their lives, and they can have fun doing it!”

While journeying with Lydia, readers will also meet a variety of characters including: a private detective hired by Lydia’s husband, a young, tattooed barista, her husband’s mistress and Lydia’s quirky brother. Weaving a variety of voices throughout the narrative, Murray’s characters further define Lydia while also exposing their unique set of circumstances.

Using several narrators, Jeannette’s characters ask the tough questions: Are you satisfied with your life? Are you living your best life?

In a fast-paced, action-packed story filled with unexpected twists and turns, our heroine sums up her time in Paris: “This [I] am someone new. This is someone who has strength and a backbone. Someone who has a sense of who she is. This is someone who doesn’t look the other way and live in denial. This is someone who stands up for herself, defends herself, and who’s given up making excuses for faults and misdemeanors. This is a whole new person you don’t know and probably never will.”

As for those who recognize pieces of themselves and their own story in Lydia’s, Jeannette promotes the pursuit of authentic, uninhibited lives with this encouragement: “Go for it, but be sensible. Don’t act crazily, or in a self-destructive way, as some women do when they ‘get free’ and go a little too wild, ending up in the same predicaments they were trying to escape.”

Following Lydia through the cobblestone streets of the most romantic city in the world, readers will be surprised at what can be found when you give yourself the opportunity to look.

Hollie Eudy is an English teacher who loves stories, words and the mountains of Appalachia.

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