Rural Living | Fiction Reviews

Florence, Elinor. Wildwood. Dundurn. Mar. 2018. 328p. ISBN 9781459740204. pap. $19.99; ebk. ISBN 9781459740228. F

In Florence’s (Bird’s Eye View) second novel, Molly Bannister, broke and unemployed after the crash of 2008, discovers she has been left a remote Canadian farmstead by her estranged great-aunt Mary. The catch is she must live there full time for one year in order to inherit it legally. Leaving Phoenix for the beautiful Peace River region of Northern Alberta is quite a shock. Molly is helped along when she finds Mary’s 1924 homesteading journal in the farmhouse; selections are shared, adding warmth and interest. The heart of the story, though, lies in Molly’s relationship with her young daughter Bridget; the reason Molly decided to claim the inheritance is to sell it to pay for Bridget’s needed medical treatments. Their new neighbors are mostly salt-of-the-earth types, but not everyone is reliable: some mystery and intrigue surround Molly’s legacy. There is also a chance at love, in a slightly clunky romantic subplot. VERDICT A heartwarming story about the power of family, this novel of modern pioneering will appeal to many readers. Fans of Debbie Macomber or even Janette Oke will likely find the gentle tone and the focus on wholesome themes a familiar and engaging type of read.—Melanie Kindrachuk, Stratford P.L., Ont.

MacArthur, Robin. Heart Spring Mountain. Ecco: HarperCollins. Jan. 2018. 368p. ISBN 9780062444424. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062444455. F

DEBUT First novelist ­MacArthur (Half Wild) spins a tale of family and history in this multigenerational novel set in rural Vermont. During the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Bonnie, a drug addict, decides to view the scene from a bridge over the raging river. Her daughter Vale lives in New Orleans, tending bar and stripping for a living, but drops everything to return home when she hears her mother is missing. As Vale reconnects with her family and digs into the past, the story line presents several points of view: of her great-aunt Hazel, still living on the mountain; her aunt Deb, who once was part of a commune; and her eccentric maternal grandmother Lena, who inhabited a cabin with a one-eyed owl. Through Vale’s search and the group’s memories, the tangled story of the past, both hidden and known, comes into focus. ­VERDICT Although the point-of-view jumps can be confusing and the narrative takes its time gaining momentum, the characters are richly drawn and authentic, so this book should be warmly welcomed by readers of contemporary literary fiction that plumbs the depths of rural American experience, especially that of women. [See Prepub Alert, 7/17/17.]—Nancy H. Fontaine, Norwich P.L., VT

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