Monday, November 19, 2012

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society: A Novel by Amy Hill Hearth

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society: A Novel by Amy Hill Hearth

Synopsis from goodreads:A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo.

In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and anonymously hosts a radio show, calling herself Miss Dreamsville.

The racially segregated town falls in love with Miss Dreamsville, but doesn’t know what to make of Jackie, who welcomes everyone into her book club, including a woman who did prison time for allegedly killing her husband, a man of questionable sexual preference, a young divorcee, as well as a black woman.

By the end of this novel, you’ll be wiping away the tears of laugher and sadness, and you just may become a bit more hopeful that even the most hateful people can see the light of humanitarianism, if they just give themselves a chance.

My Review:

This was so much fun! I loved every character in this book so much I didn’t want it to end! This gang of misfits turned Naples on its heel and I loved every minute of it!

Mrs. Jackie Hart is a northerner transplanted to Naples in the early 1960’s and since she’s a Yankee she doesn’t really fit in so she starts a Women’s Literary Society and the group that shows up is also on the outside, we have a divorcee, a woman just out of prison for killing her husband, a colored (their words) girl, a man who they let join because they all know he is a homosexual, a woman the whole town calls Plain Jane and the librarian, this group of outsiders and misfits ends up being about so much more than reading books.

This book had humor, drama, and life lessons what I loved about it was the way these and women (and Robbie Lee) came together as strangers with nothing in common and ended up the best of friends and truly involved in each other’s lives. I just wish it had been longer or maybe has a sequel in the works! I liked the historical details of the time, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the KKK, women’s rights and women trying to find their place in the world, civil rights. The Cuban Missile Crisis chapter I thought was well done and really gave a feel to how people in Florida must have felt.

I also liked in the acknowledgments finding out that Jackie was modeled after the authors MIL who was the actual Miss Dreamsville. And this author’s non-fiction work about the Delany sisters’ is one I have been meaning to read for awhile so will be bumping that up on the TBR pile. I hope she will write more fiction because I will be first in line to read more from this author.

4 Stars

Monday, November 5, 2012

Winter Shadows by Margaret Buffie

Winter Shadows by 

Synopsis from Goodreads
Cass feels the long winter shadows on her heart. Her mother died of cancer and her father has remarried a woman who has moved into their old Manitoba house with her nasty, babyish daughter and an attitude that's very hard to take. Christmas promises to be a miserable time.

More than a century earlier, Christmas is proving to be difficult for Beatrice, too, for she has shadows of her own. Some are cast by her circumstances. She sees the growing prejudice against people like her who are of mixed Cree and Scottish backgrounds. And like Cass, she has a stepmother. Her father's new wife is threatened by Beatrice and is driving a wedge into the family. Beatrice can only be sure of her beloved Cree grandmother, relegated to a room upstairs. When a way of escape presents itself to Beatrice by way of an eligible bachelor, she is torn by the choice it offers her. Should she settle for a man she doesn't love or address the problems at home? Through her journal, she explores the answer and, at the same time, inspires Cass to find the strength she needs to face her own situation. Margaret Buffie's great skill as a storyteller creates a splendid, engaging novel that offers readers a rich combination of fine history, suspenseful shifts in time, and unforgettable characters.

My Review:

This book shows that step families have been hard for a very long time. The parallel stories of Beatrice in the 1856 and Cass in the present both have a new step mother after their mothers have died and the relationship is not an easy one. I like this time travel/shadow travel/ ghost/spirit story? With a dash of romance. It is kind of hard to categorize. 

It is set in Manitoba in 1856 Beatrice is not happy to have come home after being away at school and found her father married to Ivy a sour woman and Aggatha, Beatrice’s Cree grandmother, is not being taken care of, this sets off a chain of events that makes a relationship between Beatrice & Ivy very tense to say the least. Cass’s mother has died and her father has re-married to an unhappy jealous woman named Jean who also has a daughter Daisy who seems to do her best to annoy Cass. Suddenly these two girls’ centuries apart are seeing flashes of each other’s lives and Beatrice’s diary appears to Cass and she reads about Beatrice’s life.

I enjoyed this book and think that a lot of young people will relate to it, because blended families are hard but what I loved about this book was the reveal of the new wives past and what made them react to these girls the way they did and how when they found a happy medium to their feelings, that was when healing starts.

The “romance” between Beatrice & Kilgour was sweet I liked the way she never realized how he felt about her and how she fought her feeling tooth & nail without even realizing what she was doing. I also liked how Daisy & Cass’s relationship grew, these two stories were very true to life about how hard a blended family can be.

I totally see why this book has won awards in Canada and since Winnipeg Manitoba is only a couple hours from where I live it made it even more special. I liked the history of the Cree in this area and how they blended with the new immigrants into a thriving community.

I highly recommend this book.

4 Stars

Full disclosure: I received this book from the Librarything Early Reviewers Program for a unbiased review.