Book Review: When the Lights Go Up by Jennifer McClory

Phyl CampbellStarred Page By Phyl Campbell, 31st May 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Chick Lit

When the Lights Go Up, (Book Review) by Chick Lit Author Jennifer McClory tells the tale of small town girl Dagny Haven who breaks out of a deadbeat relationship to find herself.

When the Lights Go Up Synopsis

Woman in a going-nowhere relationship finds a hobby and romance. In the end, she finds herself.
When the Lights Go Up is a companion novel to Jump, Fall, An Evening at the Purple Cat, and Exes, Gators, and the Death of that Fontenot Boy. Think of the books as musings from the people in a small town. Each book is one neighbor's perspective of life in his/her (usually her) town, but (usually) she interacts with the other characters in each book.

*Image this section courtesy

When the Lights Go Up Critique

I have never read, nor watched, _Cat on a Hot Tin Roof_. Like a character in WTLGU, I figured there must have been a cat in there somewhere. After reading this book (and mourning the absence of felines in Tennessee Williams plays) I still won't read or watch the play, most likely. But I loved this book. I loved the sense of a woman (Dagny Haven) getting outside of her routine and finding something she loves to do. I loved the push and pull from people who supported her -- and those that didn't -- so that she needed to find her self and where she fit in to the world she is part of. I even liked that I didn't agree with every choice she made, because she is a character in a book and not me. Despite not being me, I loved the way I could relate to her, due to McClory's brilliant writing. McClory also ties in characters from previous works, using each novel to showcase a different group of people who are all part of a larger community, and I think that may be the most fascinating part of the world she creates for us, her readers.

*Image this section courtesy MorgueFile.

Comparing McClory to other authors

To date, I have read everything McClory has published. I would put her in the same category as Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed), Meg Cabot, Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham (Shopaholic Series), or even Lauren Wisenberger (Devil Wears Prada). But McClory will stand apart from these ladies with her southern charm and local flavor.

Update: A New Book!!

I had lunch with Jennifer last week and got a copy of her latest novel, The Last Girl. First, this means I now own everything that McClory has published to date, even though I haven't reviewed everything. Second, The Last Girl is fabulous. I dropped the book I had been reading and devoured this one instead -- in two days. The Last Girl is a departure from McClory's typical chic-lit girl-next-door novel, fitting instead into that gritty Young Adult Dystopian genre that I haven't been able to get my fill of.

Even better, something about it unlocked several writer's block issues that I'd been having. I'm still doing more outlining than drafting at this point, which is just another way of procrastinating, but I am writing and the ideas are coming. Since I have generally flown novel ideas from the seat of my pants, the Type A of my personality is liking the change. And the creative side will adjust -- she usually does. So when I'm not posting a review a day here on Wikinut, that's what I'm doing instead.

*Image this section courtesy the author.

Other Books that might interest you

Another Book by McClory that I've reviewed is Jump, Fall.

Chic Lit:
Every Boy's Got One
100% Magic
Sorority Girls With Guns

Feminist & Historical Fiction:
Primrose Way
A Foreign Field
Ties That Bind, Ties That Break

*Image this section courtesy Goodreads.


I know this author. At an author event, we swapped books, and then I bought the rest of what she had, as she's published more than I to date. I write this review and any review to give honest feedback to the author. I hope and expect that any feedback I get from them is equally honest.

Update: I've been following this author online for almost two year now. We even had lunch last week. Our sons are in the same drama troupe, though different plays, and we live within a half hour of each other. I still maintain that my critiques are honest feedback and always hope for the same. McClory has not posted any reviews of my work since several authors' reviews were pulled from Amazon and several of her reviews were lost. She didn't want to take the time to craft and post one only to have it rejected. I suppose I'm still too small a fish for Amazon to care what I do, but I've been posting my reviews here more than on Amazon and (now) Amazon-owned Goodreads, anyway.

*Image this section courtesy MorgueFile.


Book Review, Chic Lit, Dagny Haven, Jenmac, Jennifer Mcclory, When The Lights Go Up

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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author avatar Ptrikha
6th Jun 2014 (#)

Well written book review. You seem to read books in a variety of genres.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
7th Jun 2014 (#)

I do, yes. Normally if a book is well written, I will like it; if it is poorly written, I will try to find something about it to like. Added to that, in my early Wikinut days -- has it been a year already? -- I was trying to read fellow local authors in my community. McClory is one of those. Thanks for commenting! This was the first article I ever got a star for. It's nice to come back to it thanks to comments like yours.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
14th Oct 2014 (#)

Thanks, Steve! Sorry if more than one got in the queue.

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