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) novels have helped lots of women find their own next chapters, and I also take great joy in sharing what I've learned so far on the Reinvention and Writing pages at Claire

My books have been called everything from romantic comedy to women's fiction to beach reads to chick lit.

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I wouldn't have to sit in a restaurant with a friend of a friend of one of my brothers, probably Michael's, but maybe Johnny's or Billy Jr.'s, pretending to enjoy a meal I was too nervous to taste.

I needn't endure even a phone conversation with someone my sister Christine had talked into calling me.

You could sit at a table for hours without getting dirty looks from the people who work there. And from one of my very favorite daughters at that." "Where'd you get the rose, Dad? It's the natural course of this life that your dad would have lady friends now, Sarry. My father looked at me blankly, then lifted his shaggy white eyebrows in surprise. " The waitress stood up, caught my father's eye and smiled. I debated whether to file that tidbit away for future reference, or to plunge into deep and immediate denial that the incident had ever happened. The town is on the coast about halfway between Boston and Cape Cod.

The long Saturday-morning take-out line backed up to the door, and it took me a minute to maneuver my way over to the tables. Come here and give your dear old daddy a hug." "Dad? " "Picked it this morning from your dear mother's rose garden. I feel your sainted mother whispering her approval to me every day." "So, um, you're planning to meet this lady friend here, Dad? His eyes moved skyward as he cocked his head to one side. "Well, now, there's one for the supermarket papers. She walked away, and he turned his gaze back to me. Your family has to live there for several generations before you're considered a townie, which basically means that once you're dead you can have a street named after you, but by most standards I've lived there a very, very long time. After my first novel was published, I was pretty sure no one in the whole town would ever speak to me again.

"And lovely as you are, you're even lovelier when you're a smidgen less flip." I swallowed back the tears that seemed to be my only choice besides flip, and sat down in the chair across from my father. I knew it would have to be good, real good, because when the school where I taught fired me for the material I excavated there, I'd need a career.

Our waitress came by and I managed to order a coffee. I enclosed a small check to secure my own box number for responses. I didn't mention my almost-date to anyone, barely even allowed myself to think about its possibilities. And wait till you hear this..." I've started going out again in broad daylight.Less than a week later I had my answer: Dear Madam, Might I have the privilege of buying you coffee at Morning Glories in Marshbury at 10 AM this coming Saturday? -Awaiting Your Response The invitation was typed on thick ivory paper with an actual typewriter, the letters O and E forming solid dots of black ink, just like the old manual of my childhood. There was simply no sense in getting my hopes up, no need to position myself for a fall. And wherever I go, the wonderful people of Scituate, Massachusetts, hand me their stories, their dirt, their dish, on a silver platter.Then her bossy big sister decides to place a personal ad for her, and the wild ride begins. Must love readers.' Respondents to such an ad might include Claire Cook, whose new novel, Must Love Dogs, tells the story of a down-to-earth divorcee seeking companionship through the personals . ."-USA Today"Cook dishes up plenty of charm." -San Francisco Chronicle"[A] laugh-out-loud novel, a light and lively read for anyone who has tried to re-enter the dating scene or tried to 'fix up' somebody else."-Boston Herald "Claire Cook's "Must Love Dogs," a book that's got more giggles than soda bread has raisins."-Hartford Courant"[A] tart slice-of-the-single-life...breezy first-person"- Publishers Weekly"If Must Love Dogs is any indication of her talents, readers will hope that Claire Cook will be telling breezy summer stories from the South Shore of Massachusetts for seasons to come."-The Washington Post"Claire Cook's characters aren't rich or glamorous- they're physically imperfect, emotionally insecure, and deeply familiar. Reading about Sarah Hurlihy's travails is like talking to a comedic, self-deprecating friend.Sarah is about to meet her first date in more than a decade. this novel is a hoot."-The Boston Globe"Funny and pitch-perfect."-Chicago Tribune"This utterly charming second novel by Cook is a fun read, perfect for whiling away an afternoon on the beach."-Library Journal"'Eternally hopeful book reviewer seeks wildly witty novel on singles scene/personal ads. Must Love Dogs is a sweet, funny novel about first dates and second chances." -Tom Perrotta"This story is so delicious, so funny, so warm, that one engages on the first page and still wants more on the last. Cook's humor breezes through the pages as she details the perils-and perks-of plunging back into the dating scene." -Book Page I wrote my first novel in my minivan at 45.It was comprised of more than its share of control freaks, like this guy-Seeking attractive woman between 5'4" and 5'6", 120-135 lbs., soft-spoken, no bad habits, financially secure, for possible relationship. When I got to the slow bloom of affection, it just did me in. I circled the ad in red pen, then tore it out of the paper in a jagged rectangle.

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