Judith D Collins
By Martha Woodroof
Publisher: St. Martins Press
Publication Date: Aug 12 2014
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Tom Putnam, an English professor at a Virginia women’s college, has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. For more than ten years, his wife Marjory has been a shut-in, a fragile and frigid woman whose neuroses have left her fully dependent on Tom and his formidable mother-in-law, Agnes Tattle.
Tom considers his unhappy condition self-inflicted, since Marjory’s condition was exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess.
But when Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the campus bookstore’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to dinner, her first social interaction in a decade, Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon. And when Tom returns home that evening to a letter from the poetess telling him that he’d fathered her son, Henry, and that Henry, now ten, will arrive by train in a few days, it’s clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.
For readers of Helen Simonson and Anna Quindlen, Martha Woodroof's Small Blessings is funny, heart-warming and poignant, with a charmingly imperfect cast of cinema-ready characters. Readers will fall in love with the novel’s wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life is veering irrevocably off track, the track changes in ways we never could have imagined.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
SMALL BLESSINGS, speaks for itself in this quirky debut novel, which is quiet entertaining, with its array of colorful and flawed characters. (with some Shakespeare mixed in for added pleasure).
Image, the setting: Tom Putnam, a professor in a small Virginia women's college leading a boring life due to the demands from home and his disturbed and miserable wife. This guy deserves a break!
Between his emotionally disturbed wife, Marjory and his feisty mother in law, Agnes – sure he cannot wait to get to class. However, he feels guilt, so sucks up and resides in misery, as his wife’s condition is partly due to her discovery of his brief affair with a visiting poetess, Retesia. His mother in law warned him not to marry Marjory and why didn’t he listen?
His luck is about to change. His wife dies in a car accident and he learns he has a son (from this brief affair more than ten years ago)—shocker! He is relieved with the news of his wife’s death, more like a release and a relief. It also meant hope, as his past twenty-three years of marriage--and now it was over. No chance of redemption, or so he thinks.
Blessing come in small packages, when little Henry arrives with only one change of clothes, and fifty thousand dollars in cash, as well as a cashier's check for four hundred and fifty thousand dollars! Confusing, the wrong birth date and the ticket stub from Picayune, MS to Charlottesville, not, New Orleans. Who is this little boy? Taking in a lost boy was one thing, but a boy with a half a million dollars was something else.
Puzzled by more than the cash, is his name on the birth certificate. (His former brief lover, had sent him a note announcing the arrival of his son she is sending to live with him, as she is now an author and will be going on tour). —surprise from New Orleans.
He makes a home for Henry (with the assistance of mother-in-law), and as luck would have it, he falls in love with Rose, the new manager of the college bookstore.
OK, what is missing here?? Secrets? No spoilers here – you will have to read this mysterious, funny, crazy, and lovable story to find the answers. Even when things look bleak, you never know what is around the corner.
SMALL BLESSINGS will make you cry and laugh out loud—with some risks, secrets, dangers, twists, and long deserved happiness along the way.
Excited to connect with this newfound Southern author from Greensboro, NC (having raised my children in Winston-Salem, where they currently reside). The author’s lively personality is reflective throughout the pages of this charming debut novel. Look forward to reading more from Martha Woodroof!