Hilarity and Meaning in "Valentina Goldman Ships Out", by Marisol Murano - Book Review

We received this book from the publisher with a request for review.

I grabbed Valentina Goldman Ships Out as a vacation read. It is the second in a series by Marisol Murano.  I hadn’t read the first book, but I liked the look of the cover and it seemed appropriate for summer reading.

Valentina is barely treading water after her husband’s sudden death when her Venezuelan mother shows up at her house with one mission in mind: to get Valentina out of her funk. How does she propose to do this? A Mediterranean cruise, of course. The dynamic between mother and daughter brings equal amounts of laughs and cringes. Serena is the quintessential controlling Latino mother who wields guilt like a sword to get those around her to do exactly as she wants. And what she wants is to go on a cruise with Valentina.

Valentina Goldman Ships Out
By Marisol Murano

Murano’s cynical and witty take on ‘cruisers’ is spot on. From the impeccably dressed haughty gay men to the elderly widows all fussing over the one eligible, wealthy octogenarian, Valentina manages to makes friends with someone in each of the stereotyped cruise groups. She even devilishly participates in the art auction of the ‘faux classics,’ without being a registered bidder, much to the other bidders’ chagrin but the reader’s delight.

Amid the antics of the cruise, Valentina does some intense self-reflection on the effects of love and loss in her life, and Murano’s phrasing is often eloquent. “Life doesn’t let you distill the bad days from the good. In the end, love guarantees nothing. And yet, despite the trickery, despite the land mines, despite the seismic shifts, people still fall in love.” These gems among the quipping cruise stories give the book an unexpected depth.

Valentina and Murano both had more heart and soul than I was expecting when I picked up Valentina Goldman Ships Out. It was a good summer read, yes, but a good anytime read too. I’m hopeful there is a third book in the offing so I can find out how Valentina readjusts to life back on solid ground.

Published: 2015
Publisher: Hipso Media

Elizabeth's rating: 3.5 stars