Will Parker, recently released from the penitentiary having completed his sentence, is just looking for work and a place to call home. He lands in Whitney, Georgia but a few days after securing a job at a sawmill, he’s let go when they learn of his record. Will is desperate when he sees an ad placed by Eleanor (Elly) Dinsmore looking for a husband to help with her spread. Known in town as “Crazy Widow Dinsmore,” Elly has two young boys and is pregnant with her third child. Her property is located on the edge of town and is suffering from neglect. She’s isolated, having been recently widowed and the subject of town derision her whole life. Will is drawn to this strange young woman who is a wonderful mother to her sons and he accepts the “job.” These two lonely people somehow discover a connection to each other at the lowest points in their lives.
After reading so many psychological thrillers recently, I was in the mood for a story with a lot of heart. This has that and so much more, set in rural Georgia right before the beginning of our entry into WWII. While Will had a prison record, he wasn’t his crime. He’s hardworking with a strong sense of right and wrong. Elly was raised by her religious zealot grandparents who kept her hidden because of their shame about her being born out of wedlock, making her the subject of the town’s disdain her whole life. She and Will finding each other turned out to be the miracle they weren’t even looking for as they had settled into acceptance of their lot in life. As he transformed her property, she loosened the locks around his heart through her kindness and care. I loved how their relationship slowly developed from a mutual contract to friendship and respect, then a deep love. That journey wasn’t easy but it was necessary for each of them to have the time to form trust and really get to know one another.
I’ve had this book for many years, recommended long ago by a trusted friend, but I never got around to it. That turned out to be fortuitous because I was able to get it on audio and the narrator was outstanding. This was a saga that spanned several years and her storytelling skills were exceptional. I loved the writing, though a few of the characterizations were dated but didn’t detract from the story. There were some important secondary characters, specifically the prickly town librarian, Gladys Beasley with whom Will formed a friendship as he used books to learn how to do necessary work on Elly’s property. I loved everything about this story filled with so many impressionable moments that had me experience a wide range of emotions. It was more than I hoped it would be.
- Release Date: February 16, 2021 (first published 1989)
- Narrator: Emily Sutton-Smith
- Audio Length: 16 hours, 31 minutes
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
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(Thanks to Tantor Audio for my complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.)