Sunday, November 23, 2014
Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof
From debut novelist Martha Woodroof comes an inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had. Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier. Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he'd fathered a son who is heading Tom's way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not. A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.
I didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as I did. There were just really some great characters and some great surprises! This novel seems like it will be your usual warm, fuzzy fiction read, perfect for blankets, tea, and rainy days. But several times throughout the book Martha Woodroof threw in a new plot twist that I absolutely was not expecting! I loved the surprises!
Another thing I really enjoyed about this novel was the idea for Rose that it would be taking a risk to stay in one place. This plays against the idea that usually it takes courage to leave and go someplace new. But for Rose, moving around is her safety. It takes courage for her to stay in one place, set up roots, and -- more commonly -- open herself up to deeper connections. I also found it interesting how her mother, Mavis, was presented in the book. Except for two instances, she is just a voice of reason in Rose's head -- but still, she is very much a character in the story.
Henry seems to good to be real for a 10-year-old boy, but he was endearing and I think that's what the author was going for with him. All of the main characters experience tremendous growth during the time frame of the novel and it was just really enjoyable to experience it with them.
This book is definitely worth reading! 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing me with the audiobook.