Sunday, August 12, 2012

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

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451675232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451675238

Book Description

 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 laughter 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.

About The Author

Debut novelist Amy Hill Hearth is a former journalist and the author or coauthor of seven nonfiction books, including Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years, the New York Times bestseller-turned-Broadway play. She met her future husband, Blair, who was raised in Collier County, while she was working as a reporter in Daytona Beach, Florida, in 1983. She is a graduate of the University of Tampa. 

My Review

 Amy Hill Hearth is a wonderful storyteller. This is a story of friendship.  It is a story of a time and a place that are gone forever.  It is a story about ordinary people being brave.  And a story of love.

Set in early 1960s small town Florida and told by Dora Witherspoon, the Turtle Lady, a young divorcee who is trying to get on with her life and making new friends.  It is a story about Southern women, one transplanted Northern woman and a gay man in a time when men were not gay.  Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is live your life the way you want to.

When I think of Florida I don't think of it as part of the antebellum south ( I tend to think of it as a giant theme park, retirement haven and Cuban culture) but in the early 1960s Florida was still part of the deep south.  Segregation was ever present and it did not seem to long ago that slavery existed.  I find this all so fascinating as I will be in Florida for a conference next month and now I 'm going to be looking for signs of Old Florida everywhere I go.

Hearth made these characters come alive on the page. You could feel what they were going through and you were glad they found each other.  Jackie Hart, an outspoken Northern woman transplanted in Florida makes things happen!  She is the undisputed star of this book and the title character.  Miss Dreamsville anonymously hosts a radio program late at night.  Everyone wonders who she is.  She is considered the ultimate woman and adored by her fans.  Yet they've never seen her.  People do tend to jump to conclusions don't they.

Great book! You'll warm to all the characters right away.  Short read but full of emotion.  It will be released on October 2nd.  Be sure to pre-order a copy!

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