Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
Published by Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
From the publisher:
Eighty-year-old Dora, the narrator of a story that began a half century earlier, is bonding with an unlikely set of friends, including Jackie Hart, a restless middle-aged wife and mother from Boston, who gets into all sorts of trouble when her family moves to a small, sleepy town in Collier County, Florida, circa 1962.
With humor and insight the novel chronicles the awkward North-South cultural divide as Jackie, this hapless but charming “Yankee,” looks for some excitement in her life by accepting an opportunity to host a local radio show where she creates a mysterious, late-night persona, “Miss Dreamsville,” and by launching a reading group—the Collier County Women’s Literary Society—thus sending the conservative and racially segregated town into uproar. The only townspeople who venture to join are regarded as outsiders at best—a young gay man, a divorced woman, a poet, and a young black woman who dreams of going to college.
Okay, so, longest title ever. I have to say, the title actually sort of prejudiced me against Miss Dreamville before I even started. For one thing, it makes the book sound almost sickly sweet. Well, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society is definitely sweet, but it is not at all saccharine. Dora is a wonderful narrator, full of vim and vigor, as well as heart.
Jackie is, of course, the center of the novel. She is after all the catalyst for the change in Collier County. Even so, Miss Dreamville is not a Yankee coming down to save and enlighten backwards Southerners. Jackie is certainly the instigator of the literary society, but because she wants to make friends and have something to do in her new town. The group she gathers is mostly comprised of misfits and outcasts, but each of the characters in this book has something to teach her (or his) new friends, Jackie included.
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier Women’s Literary Society is well-written and absolutely endearing. It is a quick read both because it is relatively short and because it is so easy to get lost in that you won’t want to put it down. Recommended.
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss.
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