Wednesday, December 30, 2015

If You Were Here

By Jen Lancaster

Mia and Mack got tired of dealing with life in the city and decided to look for a place in a smaller town, specifically, Abington Cambs. (I'm confused about this, if it is a real town or just an area in Lake Forest, Illinois. Apparently it was the location of several John Hughes movies and the main character is a huge fan of his work, as is the author, Jen Lancaster.) So, relating to Mia's affection for John Hughes movies, a mansion where some of the scenes were filmed is on the market. It's a huge house, near the lake, but it is within their price range and it passes inspection. It is a bit of a fixer-upper, having stood vacant for several years and has out-dated fixtures but that is not a problem. Mack wants to try his hand at doing some remodeling and Mia is anxious to redecorate.
But it turns out the building inspector was incompetent and nearly everything that could go wrong does go wrong. To start off, the neighbors are hostile and complaints keep flooding in about everything Mia and Mack are trying to do. The police even show up one day with one of the cats under arrest for peeing outdoors.
Then after Mack gets the master bedroom all fixed up beautifully, the ceiling falls in on Mia, raining scummy water and carpenter ants all over her and the new bedroom. That's when they discover they have a serious infestation problem of carpenter ants and termites.
As far as problems go, though, the house problems pale in comparison to their marital problems. Mia is getting more and more frustrated with Mack's efforts at remodeling and their communication is suffering. And the bills are piling up to the point where they have to take out a second mortgage on the house and Mack has quit his job to focus on fixing the house. Mia has become the main source of income (she writes young adult zombie romances) and the working conditions at the house are ruining her concentration. If she isn't able to get her newest novel finished by the deadline, things could get real bad real fast
And then the contractor they hired disappears with the money they paid him.

This is Lancaster's first published fiction story and it is funny and entertaining. Although the building repair disasters seem a little unlikely, with remodeling I guess it can be one thing after the other. Mia certainly gets herself into situations, including being arrested twice, but it was all quite amusing and more than a little scary, if you are ever thinking about doing some remodeling. Or buying a fixer-upper house. Be warned by Mia and Mack's struggles!

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