Book Review of Bertha-Size Your Life!, By Jane Carroll
Bertha-Size Your Life!
I do not often use exclamation points within a book review, but Jane Carroll's 2005 book Bertha-Size Your Life! calls for it in many ways.
The exclamation point is in the title and also is in my mind as I read this book. The novel is a fun read that will have you laughing out loud as you read one moment and then saying "Aha!" the next moment. (See? Another exclamation point, I could not help myself).
Jane Carroll's Novel
The book cover is bright green and features a drawing of a lady in neon clothing who sits on the back of a car. Oh yes, the car is bright pink in colour. Very eye-catching and unusual for a book! Many covers are white or have pops of colour, rather than an all-out rainbow like Berth-Size Your Life!
As I began to read Jane Carroll's novel, I understood the significance of the bold colours. Bertha is one of the main characters in the novel. She wears neon, outrageous outfits throughout the events described in the chapters. She is often unpredictable in what she says and does during the adventures.
The cover must be Bertha's doing! She is a powerful personality, after all. Readers will realize this woman means business by the end of Chapter One.
The chapters are relatively short, a three to five pages for many of them. I enjoyed this feature as I often do not have a lot of time to devote to reading books. I was able to finish a chapter and then begin the next chapter the following day. I personally do not like leaving a novel half-way through a chapter, so the organization worked well for me.
Illustration by Cindy Collins
Did I mention the illustrations?
There are black and white drawings throughout Bertha-Size Your Life! similar to the image on the front cover. The novel is illustrated by Cindy Collins. Cynthia Dendy is now the illustrator's name and, on a fun note, she is also Jane Carroll's sister!
The drawings are another great feature to bring the character of Bertha to life. While Jane Carroll's writing creates a lively woman, we also get to see her in movements associated to what is read. For example, one illustration has her in a cheer-leading outfit.
No, I will not spoil the details for anyone who has not yet read the book.
Who Is Bertha?
Bertha is a character not to be forgotten. I am sure she thinks that herself; Jane Carroll writes her motions and dialogue so clearly that it is hard to believe she is not a real person. Perhaps Jane Carroll has based her on a real woman she has met.
In each chapter, Bertha offers a funny look at life with a lesson to show the other main character in the book. The other character is the "I" in the novel; the book is told from the first-person point of view. So, what does exactly does Bertha do?
In the chapter titled "Closet Cleaning", Bertha wears purple spandex shorts and a red bandana as she cleans the closet of the other character. The lesson learned in this chapter is that when the closet is emptied but discarding unused items, "something has to come along to fill it up" (page 70).
As with lessons in other chapters, this lesson applies to larger life principles. When we rid ourselves of the clutter that is taking up room in our lives, we make room for new relationships and new opportunities to come our way.
The "Closet Cleaning" Chapter of Bertha-Size Your Life! is as smartly written as the other parts of the book. Each chapter carries its own lesson that applies to the two main characters and that the reader can apply to their own lives.
Often, I put the book down after a few pages to ponder the life lessons. I applied the dialogue to my own life, as a way to make my life more positive. The lessons are positive and light in spirit.
Often, I laughed as I read the book. Note here that I was often alone as I read the pages! Some parts of Jane Carroll's book are funny because of Bertha's neon clothing, while other sections are so witty in the writing style. Along with humour, the lessons shine through for readers.
I highly recommend Bertha-Size Your Life! as a fun read to relax you after a stressful day or as a book to help you reflect on lessons about life.
Jane Carroll is currently working on a follow-up novel to Bertha-Size Your Life!
She has been in the nursing field for over 30 years. She is a Registered Nurse, a Life Coach, and Reiki Master. She is also a mother and grandmother.
I would like to add to her Biography that she is a witty writer and that this book is a great, fun read. Oh, and Bertha has asked that wear a bright-pink boa for the rest of the day!
Jane Carroll's Website
- Welcome | Jane Carroll Author
Alabama author Jane Carroll gives a face, a wardrobe, and a flare to inspirational humor. Her writing weaves a rich tapestry of humor, inspiration, insight, southern roots, and friendship; perfect for readers in the empty nest period of life.