Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Review: Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women's Literary Society

Author: Amy Hill Hearth
Publication Date: October 2, 2012
Publisher: Atria Books

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 name is Dora Witherspoon but most folks know me as the Turtle Lady. A long time ago, I rescued a snapping turtle the size of a truck tire from the middle of Highway 41, a move deemed so foolish it became local legend. I can’t say I’m partial to it, but here in the South, nicknames stick like bottomland mud.” – Finished Copy pg. 1

“Now I understood how Robbie-Lee, Naples’s only obvious homosexual, was able to survive: no one messed with him on account of his mother.” – Finished Copy pg. 73

“I wondered about these new friends of mine and hoped I hadn’t gotten in over my head. I had a funny feeling they were either going to drive me nuts of become the best group of friends I’d have in my whole life. As things turned out, it was a little of both.” – Finished Copy pg. 74

“There’s an old southern saying that if you’re worried about your weight, your clothes, or getting old, then you don’t have any real problems.” – Finished Copy pg. 85

From the first page on I knew that this book and I would become the best of friends. I happen to be a Southern Belle, and this book is based deep, deep in the South. I was already in love. I love reading Southern Fiction and especially Southern Fiction that is set anytime in the past. This book takes place in 1962, right smack in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. We are given a cast of highly unlikely characters who form what is known as the Women’s Literary Society and take the town of Naples, Florida by storm.

There is so much humor to be found in this book. We are given, as stated before, a cast of highly unlikely characters who are joined together in what is essentially a women’s book club, well except for Robbie-Lee, Naples’s only known homosexual. Each of these characters has some pretty interesting mannerisms and traits that constantly kept me laughing out loud. Our main character, Dora, has a tendency for taking in oversized turtles that could grab hold of her at any second and refuse to let go, and even the thought of this makes me laugh. One of the members calls herself Plain Jane and another one is an ex-con who murdered her husband some years before. If you don’t catch the drift by now, they are all hilarious! I can just picture them all now, and how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

This book is stocked full of historical information and is a great representation of its time. Like I said before, it takes place in the 1960’s when the Civil Rights Movement was at its height. Things in the South were a little different from the rest of the nation, and threats of terrorist attack from Russia were rampant as well. I could feel the down home country feel that made up the town of Naples and the Southern twang/dialect used by our narrator matches my own. The author used hilarious clich├ęs and “old timey” sayings throughout her writing that I have often heard my grandmothers and father use. Issues like race, discrimination, sex, and homosexuality were simply not discussed back then, and if they were then it was done behind closed doors and amongst groups just like The Collier County Women’s Literary Society!

This book will have you dying laughing and emotionally connected to the stories that make up each character. The Women’s Literary Society brings a ray of hope and sunshine into the lives of these characters just when they needed it most. It was quite the charming read and I was delighted to follow the stories that made up this book. If you read deeply enough you may find that one or all of these characters have the will to touch a small part of your life as well!

***A big thank you to the publisher at Atria Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***

1 comment:

  1. It sounds wonderful, like a book I would really love. Thanks for sharing:)