3 out of 4 stars
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At the oh-so-wise age of six, I stubbornly told my dad that my name is not “princess.” I thought I was so grown up and wanted my dad to drop all of the cutesy names he liked to call me. I had reached an age at which I wanted to assert my intelligence, independence, and maturity. These are all things Sammi, or Samantha as she insists on being called, can relate to. In The Crone’s List by Sheralynn Ries and Vivian McDermott, Samantha has reached a major milestone in her young life, high school graduation. She is ready to set out for her first semester of college where she proudly proclaims she will stay until she achieves an MRS. For those who have not yet been informed of what exactly this designation stands for, let me tell you that MRS is not a master’s degree in religious studies. Those with a discerning eye may have noted that MRS and the marital prefix "Mrs." look oddly similar. That’s right. Samantha intends to take college courses only as long as it takes her to nab a husband.
As wise as Samantha thinks this decision is, her grandmother and godmother are none too pleased with this declaration. As Samantha sets out for her first semester, Marie and Joan collaborate to sway her in order to convince her that marriage can wait until an actual college degree is obtained. Marie and Joan proudly refer to themselves as the “Crones” or “Wise Old Women.” Their elaborate scheme for imparting their wisdom upon Samantha entails a series of letters delivered in care packages full of snacks for her and her dormmates. These letters describe Marie and Joan’s plan from decades before to date fifty guys in the hopes of finding Mr. Right. The letters include details of some of their most memorable dates and the lessons they learned from their many relationship experiences.
At its core, The Crone’s List is a dating advice book presented as a fictional tale of a young woman whose family wants her to achieve personal success before she seeks relationship success. The Crones provide a great deal of insight for young women in regards to dating strategies, qualities to look for in a man, and the most important features of a healthy relationship. Overall, the advice is practical, presented well, and meaningful. The suggestions the Crones offer Samantha and her dormmates are relevant to any young woman who is still on the dating scene.
One of my absolute favorite things about The Crone’s List is that the Crones continuously advocate for healthy, long-term, traditional relationships. By traditional I mean they follow an old adage, “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage.” Alright, that may be an old schoolyard song meant to make fun of kids who seemed to have a crush on one another more so than actual words of wisdom. However, I admire the authors for promoting a relationship path that is becoming less common in society.
On the other hand, just as the schoolyard song has been heard time and time again, so have the wise words of Marie and Joan. There are many clichés scattered throughout the book including: “roll with the punches,” “life is what happens to you while you are making other plans,” and “actions speak louder than words.” None of the advice or guidance is something a young woman could not easily find in any book offering relationship help. Some of the advice is incredibly obvious, even to someone who may not yet have any dating experiences of her own.
The advice presented is commonly heard, read, and shared, but it is also tried and true. For that reason, this book is perfect for a young woman looking for very basic and traditional relationship advice. I would also recommend it to older women who enjoy laughing at the antics of their younger selves. Some of the dates Marie and Joan discuss are quite entertaining and depict some of the societal changes that have taken place in the most recent generations. It is interesting to learn how dating was different thirty or forty years ago. I would not recommend this book to men or anyone looking for a story with a real plot. The storyline is minimal and is limited to Marie and Joan’s get-togethers as they write their monthly letters and the final outcome of their attempts to sway Samantha.
The Crone’s List is somewhat difficult to rate as I found the advice significant yet clichéd and somewhat obvious. The lack of a plot, character development, and unique ideas make this book somewhat dull. I believe this is worthy of 3 out of 4 stars for the right audience. As long as the reader knows to anticipate a book that primarily consists of dating advice presented in the format of letters and discussions between two older women and a group of young, college women, this can be an enjoyable and thought-provoking book. I would not give it four stars in its current condition because there are at least thirty commas missing. Although other typing and grammar errors are minimal, the number of necessary commas that are excluded from the text is quite excessive.
The Crone's List
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