Reviewed by Libby
For such a delightfully entertaining novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society (October 2012), in my opinion, is not an impressive title. However, readers shouldn’t be dissuaded. Just as the adage says not to judge a book by its cover, one should not judge this book by its title.
Set in the 1960s, Hearth’s fictional debut is a story about a group of book lovers who meet to discuss books and life. When Jackie Hart moves from Boston to Naples, Florida she decides to ask the local library to help her start a women’s literary society. An interesting mix of outcasts and misfits show up at the first meeting.
Hearth’s cast of characters are both lovable and unforgettable. The narrator, Dora Witherspoon, is a life-long Florida resident who works at the post office and rescues turtles in her spare time. She hears about the literary society from Jackie. With the help of the town’s librarian, informational flyers, and word-of-mouth, Jackie spreads the news and attracts a total of seven people. Plain Jane, a writer who pens sexual articles under a pseudonym, Mrs. Bailey White, a convicted felon who served her jail sentence and is granted early release, Priscilla Harmon, an African American woman who loves to read and yearns to go to college, and the only male member, Robbie-Lee Simpson, whose secrets are not exactly secret, all join the group.
These individuals, brought together by a shared love of books, bond so well. Honestly, I was jealous at times over their connection to each other and their weekly meetings. How neat it would be to belong to a literary society such as the one depicted here. In discussing books and the world around them, they learned a lot about themselves and each other.
The one criticism I have against this book is that it was too short. Of course with 272 pages, this novel doesn’t quite qualify as being very short. But, I found myself losing track of time and setting aside my responsibilities in order to finish this book. If that isn’t a sign of a really good book, then I don’t know what is.
I highly recommend Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society to readers who enjoy heartwarming stories centered on relationships and the everyday interactions of people. Amy Hill Hearth is a wonderful storyteller and an author to watch.
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