Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
Published by Atria, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley
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.
This brilliant fiction debut by Amy Hill Hearth, a New York Times bestselling author, brings to life unforgettable characters who found the one thing that eluded them as individuals:a place in the world. Inspired by a real person, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society will touch the heart of anyone and everyone who has ever felt like an outsider longing to fit in.
Why don’t I read more Southern fiction? Every time I read these types of novels, I always enjoy them tremendously and begin kicking myself for not spending more time in the genre. Oh well – this book was fun, entertaining, and incredibly sweet. I really liked it.
While Miss Dreamsville certainly falls on the lighter side of fiction, there are themes running throughout that bring the subject matter into a slightly more serious territory. We have racism, prejudice of all kinds and against all types of people, a Yankee woman completely out of her element in a Southern town, and it’s all set in the setting of a book club. Any book lover is sure to be interested by the discussions the book club has and the reactions the different members have to what they’re reading, but even more so any reader is sure to become invested in these characters and the challenges they face throughout the novel.
While Dora is the narrator of this story, the real heart and soul of the book lies in Jackie, the Northerner who came to this Southern Florida town and created quite a bit of drama for the people of Collier County. Jackie is uncomfortable in her new life, unfamiliar with the Southern way of living and can’t seem to adjust to what she sees as a backwards way of life that she is now forced into. I loved the ways in which she decided to spice up life in Collier County and instead of fitting in, she paved her own way there. She was a character I could really empathize with and I definitely rooted for her throughout the book.
I really enjoyed this one and would definitely recommend it! Fans of Southern fiction and bookish books will love it even more.