Monday, February 21, 2011

Miss You Most of All

"I think I'm going to miss you most of all" was what Dorothy told the Scarecrow at the end of The Wizard of Oz. It is this quote that the title of Elizabeth Bass's first novel comes from.
The quote also figures in the story line of a book about two sisters trying to make a go of Sassy Spinster Farm near a small town in Texas.
Laura is barely holding on to their father's farm when Rue and her 11-year old daughter, Erica, come to live with her after Rue's divorce. With Rue's encouragement, the sisters turn their homestead into a tourist destination where guests can learn how to raise their own fresh food. In addition to the income from the paying guests, they also market produce through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes and the local farmers market.
Things become interesting when their onetime stepsister, Heidi, shows up looking for a place to hide out from her mobster boyfriend. The sisters didn't get along with their younger stepsister when they were teens and Laura and Heidi still hate one another. But Rue is more mellow. She and Heidi become friends.
There is much to laugh about in this book. It seems a realistic depiction of life, love and family - including the squabbles and sibling jealousies. Bass does a credible job of exploring the meaning of family, especially when Rue's cancer returns. I so wanted this elder sister to beat back the disease one more time. Not only did the author not write that happy ending, she wrote the most beautiful, poignant, believable ending possible. I really enjoyed this first time novelist.

Sharyn McCrumb has been a favourite author of mine for many years. Her "ballad" novels are my favourites, though I've liked everything she has written including her "Nascar" novels. The Devil Amongst The Lawyers is her latest novel. It falls in her ballad series and while she doesn't have a large part, we meet Nora Bonesteel when she was still a young girl. (Nora has the Sight. She and her ability to see things figure in many of McCrumb's Ballad books.)
"In 1935, when Erma Morton, a beautiful young woman with a teaching degree, is charged with the murder of her father in a remote Virginia mountain community, the case becomes a cause celebre for the national press." The book is a fictionalized version the real 1935 murder trial of Edith Maxwell, which took place in Wise County, Virginia.
I always like novels based upon true events, especially when they are handled as well as Sharyn McCrumb crafts hers.

Love, Lies and Liquor is the 2006 M.C. Beaton Agatha Raisin mystery. I have not been able to read these books in order, but that does not diminish their appeal.

Beaton writes another mystery series in which her character, Hamish Macbeth, is a Scottish village constable. Death of a Witch is the first book I've read in this series. These mysteries are also quick reads, like the Agatha Raisin mysteries. I'm still partial to Agatha, but I'm sure Hamish will grow on me as I read more of these entertaining little mysteries.

(Blogger's Note: This will be my last post for a few weeks as I recuperate from shoulder replacement surgery. I'm not very good at one-handed keying.)

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