Tag Archives: Women’s Relationships

The Confession Club : #3 Mason

Confession Club started accidentally. It used to be Third Sunday Supper Club . . . after a while, they decided to meet [weekly]. At each meeting someone confessed to something she’d done . . . And just like in church, it made people feel better . . .

My book club, the Blue Ridge Readers, just finished discussing Elizabeth Berg’s #2 book in the Mason, Missouri series – Night of Miracles. Someone says,”Did you know there is a new Elizabeth Berg book set in Mason?” The group votes unanimously, “Put it on the list for next season!”

You don’t need to read The Story of Arthur Truluv and the Night of Miracles to enjoy The Confession Club – but I recommend you do so. In any case, I want to give a thumbnail of each book in the series to entice you to read the entire series.

We had all fallen in love with Arthur Moses in Book #1 –The Story of Arthur Truluv. We were enchanted with the characters and felt like we should move to Mason, Missouri in these turbulent times. Sometimes you need to go a place where everyone knows your business and your neighbors accept you with all your warts, quirks and flaws. That kind of book that makes you feel good inside and out without being sappy or cookie-cutter cute.

Arthur  gave a homeless pregnant teenager (Maddy), abandoned by the child’s father, a place to live. We meet Arthur’s next-door-neighbor, Lucille and we fell in love with her eccentricities and hugged her when she needed it. In time, Lucille moves into Arthur’s house joining Maddy, her daughter, Nola, named after Arthur’s wife, and Arthur; together they form a loving family. When Arthur passes on to reunite with his beloved wife, we know he is in a better place.

Arthur’s home becomes the central setting for book #2 – the Night of Miracles. The house now belongs to Maddy. When Maddy completes college, she marries her college professor. The newlyweds move away leaving Lucille, alone, living in Maddy’s house. Lucille’s baking classes have become a booming success and she hires an assistant, Iris Winters; an unlikely choice as she doesn’t know the first thing about baking, to help her handle the financial and business aspects. Arthur’s loving presence is always there.

Book #3, The Confession Club, is once again is set in Mason, Missouri. Our beloved Lucille has passed on (not without giving the angel of death a run for his money). Iris Winters now lives in “Arthur’s” house and is carrying on Lucille’s baking classes. Maddy and Nola have inexplicably returned to Mason and moved back into the house with Iris.

The newest book opens with a cluster of  town women in a weekly meeting of the Confession Club commiserating with each other over mistakes and “naughty” moments in their past that they regret. The confidences are not exactly earth shaking but the fellowship with friends is the point of the whole exercise. In time, Iris and Maddy stumble on the group and soon become members.

The central stories involve Iris and Maddy.  Iris develops a relationship with an unlikely new love interest – a homeless man squatting in a remote abandoned house. As we learn more about the man, I am not sure that it is a healthy relationship but -hey – I’ll suspend my suspicion until the fourth book. Hint hint Elizabeth Berg. Meanwhile, Maddy and Nola’s sudden return to Mason, Missouri bewilders Iris along with the faithful fans of the first two books.

I will be honest. The Story of Arthur Truluv is my favorite. The next two books feel comfortable and easy. Reminds me of coming home to Grandma’s house and finding out what is new in town since my last trip to my old hometown.

Recommended women’s fiction.

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WESTERING WOMEN: historical fiction

WESTERING WOMEN

Sandra Dallas
St. Martin’s Press
Historical Fiction
January 2020 – ARC Netgalley  ★★★☆☆

If you are an adventuresome young woman of high moral character and fine health, are you willing to travel to California in search of a good husband? Do you want to instill God and Civilization and Righteousness in the westernmost part of our country?

What to do on a rainy day and suffering a 9.0 Richter scale head cold? Snuggle with a book with a simple and entertaining story-line. Sitting in my email inbox that morning, was an offer from St. Martin’s Press to read Westering Women in exchange for my review; a promising choice. Serendipity.

Being an adventuresome old woman, not necessarily of high moral character, I decided to  spent the day traveling with forty-three woman in a train of prairie schooners heading from St. Joe, Missouri to California. The book amused me but I won’t say it made me feel like I connected with the characters. As a woman born at a time when my father had to sign for my first credit card, I could relate to many of the misogynistic scenes; there were times I could see where the use of a good war club might serve as an attitude adjuster.

But there is always a place for a good sappy read that tosses out obvious hints and clues well in advance. It doesn’t take a genius to see where scolding a bratty child repeatedly be careful while crossing a raging river and being repeatedly ignored might lead to tragedy. Staying with that scene, days later the mother just hitches up her skirt and says … Oh,well. Life goes on. She’s with Jesus. I don’t have to worry about her anymore.

There was a healthy dose of Christianity sprinkled everywhere like holy water. Not a surprise to the reader as the trip was sponsored and led by two preachers. At the same time, the travelers’ faith comforted them and sustained them through, what was surely true in 1850s dash across the continent, soul bending moments.

As expected, not every woman on the journey headed out through hell and high water to get a husband. The twelve or so main characters each have a hidden secret that is revealed in the fullness of time.

There were the inevitable accidentals, cholera death, and clashes with Native Americans. Fragile women escaped brutal husbands and every man they encountered on the journey seemed to want “carnal knowledge” or provide a sound beating to the woman who dared to escape their wrath; justification in my mind to head west to start over leaving bozos behind – but as expected, the bozos just had to track down the women and give them grief; bad move guys. Don’t attack a pack of feisty women.

Let it be said that this old gal did raise a hand in salute at the strength and determination of the women to form a cohesive sisterhood; broken women can heal like a broken bone – stronger in the end.

Sandra Dallas fans will enjoy the story. As I said in the beginning, I enjoyed the read. Didn’t strain the brain and was an easy read that I never felt I had to just put it down. I will admit to a couple of -“on come on, really?” moments.

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