Out of Play by Joy Norstrom @norstrom_joy @crookedcatbooks



Gillian Campbell is out of patience.

Her husband is choosing his hobby over her. And the hobby in question? Live Action Role-Play, or ‘larp’. Larp involves dressing up as a character (be it medieval knight, banshee or centaur) and participating in imaginary battles for entire weekends.

Gillian is not impressed. She seeks professional advice and is surprised when her therapist encourages her to try larp. Who knows? It may make you smile. It may make you laugh. It may even improve your sex life. How terrible could it be?

The advice seems super sketch to Gillian, but she decides to don a costume and give it a go. If larp doesn’t work a marital miracle, Gillian will be able to walk away knowing she tried absolutely everything before giving up.

Will going on her own role-play adventure heal Gillian’s marriage, or will the game shed light on everything that is wrong?


After being married for 15 years the spark between Gillian and her husband Ralph has diminished to the point of the only couple of things they really have in common is living in the same house and not really liking each other very much. Gillian is irritable and hates the fact that Ralph escapes once a month for a whole weekend away Larping (Live Action Role Play).  Now I hadn’t a clue what this was but it comes down to role play over different eras, where battles are reconstructed. It isn’t that Gillian wants Ralph to particularly do anything with her that one weekend each month, but she certainly doesn’t want him to have time out and fun either. In fact to say it really frustrates her and winds her up would be a gross under statement and she lets him know that.

Something has to be done so Gillian takes herself off to see a Therapist. It was more she needed someone to say ‘fair play, you gave it your all and it didn’t work so leave him’ but what she got was ‘try Larping yourself, you may even like it’. So Gillian didn’t get her ‘Get of the this marriage free card’, she had to give it one more resentful go so she could leave with a clear conscience.

I really liked poor Ralph from the start because boy did he have something to put up with but it isn’t always what we say that means the most but what we don’t that speaks volumes. This couple has one heck of a lot of work to be done, if they are going to survive. 

This really is a book that I jumped to conclusions and made judgements on far too soon, definitely a lesson to be learnt, as it developed into a multi layered story that really took my breath. There were plenty of laughable incidents but blimey does Joy Norstrom know how to knock you off your feet. There are some of the most tense and tender bear your soul moments in this story that I have read.

I find it hard to believe that this is Joy Norstrom’s debut novel, this is a beautifully written story that  I felt humble to read. It makes you realise just how much you take for granted. I really hope there is more to come from Joy Norstrom very soon.


Joy Norstrom

Joy Norstrom is a Canadian coffee-a-holic. She also happens to be the author of Out Of Play, a women’s fiction novel long on humour and short on romance. She lives in Calgary, Alberta and enjoys hiking with her family, wine with friends and reading late into the wee hours when she should be sleeping.

Joy is also a mother and a social worker. When she’s not parenting, championing inclusion, or getting lost in a good read, she can generally be found in conversation. A people-person by nature, she looks forward to meeting with book clubs both in person and online. To arrange a visit, contact Joy at http://www.joynorstrom.ca/contact.html






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