Sunday, September 08, 2013
When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house.Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Some parts were riveting and I identified with the heroine. Other times the book seemed to drag a bit and I found myself skimming. It's definitely women's fiction and not a romance. I don't mind stories where there are things tied to the past. I remember going to an attic once when a friend of my parents bought an old Victorian house and finding a lot of cool stuff in there from the 1800s. That part of the story was good. I also liked the interaction between her and the new friend who had terrible fashion sense. He wasn't the type of guy she went for, but was a good friend. It's probably the only healthy relationship she had.
I found it interesting that in some ways her childhood repeated itself. Her daughter seemed frustrated with her absence just like she was frustrated as a child by her mother constantly abandoning her to go out and have a good time. Her childhood seemed pretty tragic. I didn't care for her sister or the man she was dating, Ross. He seemed pretty stuck on himself and manipulative, just like the guy she married before, only not as severe. Anyway, some parts of the story were riveting and others, not so much. The pace is slower than I usually read, but the author has a great writing voice and fabulous skills with word usage. People who tend to enjoy women's fiction will love this book.
And now for the question: What is one lesson you have learned from an elderly person that sticks with you to this day?