About the book (from the publisher): 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 thought of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom is ready or not.
A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings‘s wonderfully optimistic heart reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.
My review: I couldn’t wait to tell you about this book. I feel like I found the most wonderful, funny, gentle, truth-filled book and I want to share it with everyone. Martha Woodroof has written a simply lovely story that will warm your heart, make you chuckle out loud, and fill you with hope.
Full of wonderfully eccentric characters, the story centers on the pivotal arrival of Rose Callahan who has come to town to work at the bookstore. With a magical, unexplainable quality that draws people to her, Rose, simply by being there, sets things in motion. Tom Putnam, a truly good and kind man, finds his life changing dramatically. As do Iris, a professor who is desperately unhappy, and Agnes, Tom’s wonderfully no-nonsense mother-in-law, and Tom’s best friend, also on the faculty at the college.
Woodroof has written a wonderfully gentle comedy filled with heart. As you read, you will be charmed and delighted by the citizens of this small college town. You’ll wonder, as I did, how the plot can possibly be resolved for everyone’s good, you’ll find yourself trying to prolong the experience of reading this wise and witty examination of the human heart.
We’re all searching for contact, for love, for a sense of belonging, for a second chance. So are the characters in Small Blessings. That’s why we root for them.
Woodroof is a wonderful writer. Her humor and heart shine through the pages of this first novel (hard to believe that it’s her first!) She has created strong voices for all the characters and the story is told by each of them. And she weaves those individual points of view into a fully realized story that I didn’t want to end.
When I find myself thinking about a novel for days after I’ve finished it, when I wish those characters were real people that I had the pleasure of knowing, when I want to visit the little college town and the bookstore that Woodroof has created on the pages of this book, then I know I’ve found a winner.
I received this book as an eGalley on my Kindle. Believe me when I say I am going to buy a copy of it in hardcover because I know I want it on my bookshelf to read again and again. I so hope you find a way to read this book, whether through your library or your bookstore. I know you will love it.
About the author: Martha Woodroof was born in the South, went to boarding school and college in New England, ran away to Texas for a while, then fetched up in Virginia. She has written for NPR, npr.org, Marketplace and Weekend America, and for the Virginia Foundation for Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her print essays have appeared in such newspapers as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and The San Francisco Chronicle. Small Blessings is her debut novel. She lives with her husband in the Shenandoah Valley. Their closest neighbors are cows.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for supplying an eGalley of Small Blessings.
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