Dolls Behaving Badly reviews
- Quirky characters that could only be found in Alaska and the ghost of the heroine’s Polish grandmother keep this novel fresh and innovative. The often funny story of a woman finding herself and her art shows off Ritchie’s voice and deft touch with difficult subjects. —Romance Times Reviews
- “The author’s narrative style is witty and completely down-to-earth and creates the expectation of a meaningful message that is ultimately delivered.” —Kirkus Reviews
- “The foibles of the world Ritchie paints are both vexing (unimaginative visitations from dead relatives) and endearing (Carla’s many entertaining debt-collection letters), and the latter win out. Despite a cutesy sheen that threatens to mire the story in syrupiness, Ritchie’s tale of female triumph makes for a fun read.” —Publishers Weekly
- Anchorage, AK, heats up when divorced waitress Carla brings her passion for creating art into the realm of erotic dolls. Perpetually lacking in her financial and love life, she keeps a journal in hopes of straightening out her problems and devoting more time to her artwork. Already stretched thin by the demands of raising a gifted son and helping her coworker/best friend with her romantic agenda, Carla finds her living space packed to the gills when she takes in her pregnant sister and a teenaged neighbor. Finding herself nearing 40 and still intimate with her ex-husband, Carla also struggles to move on and make time for a new romance. Considering all Carla does to support those around her, when the going gets really tough, it’s a relief when help arrives—albeit from a surprising source.
Verdict First-time novelist Ritchie writes engaging characters and creates a sense of place that brings Alaska to life. For the reader of women’s fiction who can handle a bit of the risqué. Library Journal Review
- “An out-of-the-ordinary setting and cast of characters are the backbone of Ritchie’s compelling debut novel. Divorced mom Carla lives in an Anchorage trailer park with her precocious eight-year-old son; waitresses at a Mexican restaurant while mourning her art career; and makes explicit, anatomically correct “dirty” dolls to help pay the bills. She maintains an overinvolved relationship with her chef ex-husband, and, over the course of the book, takes in her teenage babysitter, who was kicked out by her addict mother, and her once-perfect sister, who is now pregnant with a baby that is not her husband’s. When Carla is stressed or wants to show her misfit family love, she turns to her Polish grandmother’s comforting recipes, which are shared in the book, and she spends nights working on a secret series of paintings. Ritchie depicts her characters’ often bleak circumstances with humor and grace, and Carla makes for an atypical but eminently sympathetic heroine.” —Booklist
- “Reader, you hold in your hands a novel so true and heartfelt you’ll want to buy it for everyone you know. Told in a voice all her own, and peppered with hard earned wisdom, you will fall in love with Carly. Then you will fall in love with Sandee, Laurel, and especially Stephanie and Jay-Jay. With a style all her own, Ritchie is a writer to watch. —Jo-Ann Mapson, author of Solomon’s Oak and Finding Casey
- Anchorage Journalist turned novelist Cinthia Ritchie may just be Alaska’s answer to Carl Hiasson. Dolls Behaving Badly is the funny, crazy, and tender-hearted story of broke waitress Carla Richards who dreams of becoming an artist, her gifted young son, and assorted friends, family, and co-workers, all trying to get ahead in Alaska’s largest city. I laughed, I blushed, I sighed– and in the end I was rooting for Carla all the way.–Heather Lende, author of If You Lived Here I’d Know Your Name
- “Alaska is the perfectly wild setting for this story of oddball
characters trying to build creative lives around improvised family.
The narrator’s young son will surely steal your heart.”
— Nancy Lord, former Alaska Writer Laureate
“Girlfriends, guys, ghosts, and g-spots. Cinthia Ritchie’s tale of a debt-harried woman trying to keep believing in romantic love, friendship, family, and good fortune, while struggling to raise a son in single-mom poverty, left me simultaneously wishing I had been born female and thanking God that I was not.”–Richard Chiappone, Water of an Undetermined Depth
Dolls Behaving Badly, by fellow Alaskan Cinthia Ritchie, is a woman’s book, and I openly admit that I don’t normally read books targeting the woman’s market. But I read this one and was delighted. A main character who supplements her income by making dolls that (how can one put this discretely?) should never be given to children, debt collection agency letters that could and should change the way this particular industry does business, and a side of Anchorage that the brochures ignore. Lots of girl talk and lots of bizarre behavior of the sort that passes for normal (almost) here in Alaska. If you know a woman who plans to visit Alaska or has visited Alaska, or who lives in Alaska–a woman who likes a fun read and who isn’t overly prudish in her literary tastes–point her to this book, or just buy it for her.–Bill Streever, author of Cold and Heat
“So I laughed, I wanted to cry but, hey, I’m male. Ritchie’s stories are hopeful, hilarious and real to the extent that a novel can be.” —Seward Phoenix Log