Have you ever felt lonely? Have you ever wished you could find a real friend? Have you ever forged a friendship so strong that it carried you passed cultural boundaries just because you cared about your friend? Or better yet, have you ever kept a secret?
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society is the debut novel of Amy Hill Hearth, a New York Times bestselling coauthor of nonfiction Having Our Say. Set in 1962 in Southern Florida, it recounts the adventures and misadventures of a group of misfits who become friends when they attend the first ever meeting of the Collier County’s Literary Society.
When Jackie Hart moves to town from Boston, events are set in train that rock Collier County all the way to its racially segregated, male dominated base. Bored and very northern, Jackie begins the literary society as a way to fill her time and it brings her into the life of the Turtle Lady, Plain Jane, Robbie Lee (a man!), Priscilla, and a released felon Mrs. Bailey.
While fun to read, this book explores, somewhat superficially through the character of Jackie, social issues of the day that are still relevant. Racial tension and its accompanying problems is one of the focuses of this book. The struggle of women and gays to define themselves in a patriarchal society is another focus. Personal fulfillment is another issue explored. As a northern woman, Jackie doesn’t realize the consequences of many of her actions, which in turns leads to the socially defiant climax.
I found myself holding my breath along with the narrator (the Turtle Lady) while reading about Jackie’s faux pas moments that keep the plot moving. I wanted to cheer when Jackie triumphs over the morally wrong establishment. I cried once or twice.
That said, I enjoyed the book, but there were a few drawbacks. I was slightly disappointed by the ending. I found it anticlimactic, although it was a happy ending. To be fair though, after the climax I don’t see how she could have topped herself. A fair amount of profane language began to appear toward the end of the book when it really wasn’t needed. As far as I remember there wasn’t much in the way of romance and therefore pretty clean thankfully. Profanity was my biggest beef, and considering that it was so recently written it was pretty tame.
It’s a pretty fun read without being terribly thought-provoking about the issues it explores. You should be able to find it at your local library or bookstore.
- Contentment (marsellasbookends.wordpress.com)