In Amy Hill Hearth's debut novel, eighty-year old Dora Witherspoon, also known as "The Turtle Lady," shares a story from her past. The year is 1962; the place is southern Florida. Racism is rampant; women are treated as second-class citizens; northerners are eyed with suspicion. Newly divorced at a time when divorce was relatively uncommon and not generally accepted, Dora is working as a clerk at the post office and struggling to find her niche in the small community in which she lives.
Her world turns upside down when she meets Jackie Hart, a "Yankee" whose husband is employed by one of the richest men in town. Jackie has decided to start a book club at the local library and invites Dora to participate. Who else shows up at the first meeting? The librarian, a convicted murderer, a black maid, a romance novelist writing under a pseudonym, and a gay man who lives with his alligator-hunting mother. Despite having little apparently in common, this ragtag group of strangers forge fast friendships have one zany adventure after another. Together, they find the courage to be themselves in a world that favors conformity and to stand up to injustice whenever life gives them the opportunity.
I loved this book! I laughed; I cried; I fell in love with every single character--especially Dora, who is based on a real life person. Seamlessly weaving fact and fiction, Amy Hill Hearth (author of Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years) has created a gem of a story. Highly recommended!
NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE from the publisher, Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., in exchange for a written review. There was no expectation that this review be either positive or negative, and I was not given any financial compensation to read the book or write the review. This information is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.