Sometimes, I think, my love and I are reduced to one brain that we have to swap between us. Maybe that’s why it took me a couple months to realize that I could actually lay my hands on the new novel by one a blogger I’ve been reading for maybe eight years or so. (And look! I read two contemporary realistic fiction books in a row.)
Bowling Avenue by Ann Shayne.
Ann Shayne is half of the voice of the blog Mason-Dixon Knitting, and of the two Mason-Dixon Knitting books, both of which I own and adore. Here, she takes a break from writing about knitting to write a novel around the Nashville flood of 2010. Younger sister Delia escaped from Nashville to Chicago years ago, but is forced to return when her sister Ginna dies, leaving Delia the house. Delia has no use for a massive brick house, but is determined to save on the realtor fees and stick around to sell the house herself. Surrounding her are the cast of colorful characters, all described next to their silhouettes on the back cover: “Bennett, wretched brother-in-law; Judge Ballenger, maddening mother; Angus, peculiar neighbor; Shelly, watchful housekeeper; Amelia and Cassie, teenage nieces; Henry Peek, charming realtor.” Nearly all of the characters start out as annoying obstacles for Delia, but as the story progresses – and as the flood forces everyone else out of their houses and into Ginna’s house – Delia is forced both to be honest with herself and to find the real people under the puzzling facades. The less-than-pleasant sides revealed help keep the story honest – how much easier it is to get along with people if we’re not all pretending to be perfect! It’s heartwarming but not gooey sweet goodness with a touch of romance. There is less knitting in the book than I might have expected – Ginna was a hard-core knitter; Delia and her mother know how to knit but mostly don’t – but there are still Secrets in the Stash. The whole story is told in the first-person present-tense quirky down-home voice I love from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I feel like I ought to have some deep and thoughtful negative criticism here, but I just can’t find it in me. This is a perfect treat to read when you need a little something for yourself.