This is a book I am going to keep on my ‘favorites’ shelf!
On the surface this novel appears to be a story that has all the elements of contemporary fiction (although, ‘chick lit’ it most definitely, is not!) This is a multi-layered story with characters that have issues and personalities and struggles, and how their choices affect their lives.
A woman abandoned in childhood by her biological mother and raised by someone else (will she ever come to a place of healing and acceptance for her background?); a love interest, broken relationships, young unwed mothers, neighbors watching out for one another, memories that carry pain and that continue to affect choices made years afterward, hard times, small towns struggling for survival in a fast-changing world.
It is hard for me to pinpoint what fascinated me so much about this book! The characters were believable and real. They struggled like you and I do, with painful memories and financial troubles and worries about friends and how and when to intervene, especially when a child is involved. The characters often just hang on with sheer grit, but I must include that (since I come from a Christian perspective), I cannot help but wish that these characters could find solace and help ‘in time of need’ as they go through such hard times.
Gladys was a surprise. How did a hardened woman as Gladys appears to be, come to write a begging letter for help caring for her invalid sister (and for such small wages)? And, as the story progresses, will Gladys be able to forgive Madeline for the mistakes she makes?
Arbutus, who is the ‘quiet sister’, is Madeline’s favorite…and yet by the end of the book, is that still true?
There is a lot going on in this novel and the climate and descriptions of the scenery of Michigan make me want to go live there! (yes, even in winter).
This is a book to be enjoyed over again, slowly, with a hot cup of coffee and a warm blanket on a rainy night (or a wintery day).