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Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society

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A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo. In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo. In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and anonymously hosts a radio show, calling herself Miss Dreamsville. The racially segregated town falls in love with Miss Dreamsville, but doesn’t know what to make of Jackie, who welcomes everyone into her book club, including a woman who did prison time for allegedly killing her husband, a man of questionable sexual preference, a young divorcee, as well as a black woman. By the end of this novel, you’ll be wiping away the tears of laugher and sadness, and you just may become a bit more hopeful that even the most hateful people can see the light of humanitarianism, if they just give themselves a chance.


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A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo. In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo. In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and anonymously hosts a radio show, calling herself Miss Dreamsville. The racially segregated town falls in love with Miss Dreamsville, but doesn’t know what to make of Jackie, who welcomes everyone into her book club, including a woman who did prison time for allegedly killing her husband, a man of questionable sexual preference, a young divorcee, as well as a black woman. By the end of this novel, you’ll be wiping away the tears of laugher and sadness, and you just may become a bit more hopeful that even the most hateful people can see the light of humanitarianism, if they just give themselves a chance.

30 review for Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society

  1. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Despite its promising start, this novel falls very quickly into weak stereotypes and too many platitudes and cliches to list here. My librarian offered it to me as an antidote to some of the heavy books I've been reading lately, suggesting it would be uplifting and light-hearted. This "could" have been a strong novel, and a "rollicking, provocative tale", as the cover promises, but unfortunately Hearth seems to lose her way somewhere on the swamp road, before she ever dreams of meeting the KKK. Despite its promising start, this novel falls very quickly into weak stereotypes and too many platitudes and cliches to list here. My librarian offered it to me as an antidote to some of the heavy books I've been reading lately, suggesting it would be uplifting and light-hearted. This "could" have been a strong novel, and a "rollicking, provocative tale", as the cover promises, but unfortunately Hearth seems to lose her way somewhere on the swamp road, before she ever dreams of meeting the KKK. Cardboard characters lazily sketched out leave you very unsatisfied with the whole reading experience. I'll have to take this issue up with my librarian! ... but in her defence, I don't believe she read it either and was going on someone else's recommendation. Sigh. The author writes well, and her ideas are promising, but she never delivers and I soon grew bored with the bromide solutions to very real, very complex issues of the early '60s in Florida. I suppose I was half expecting the richness of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society because it seems that there is more than a subtle comparison made by the marketers and publishers of Hearth's book. Why does it rate a full two stars, and not just one? Did I finish the book? Check. (1 star) Did it have potential to be more than it was, with more than one example of a good passage? Check. (1 star) It was "just OK".

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alice Paterra

    NO. It wants to be The Help, and it wants to be the Guernsey Literary and potato pie society, but it isn't either. Poorly written, under-developed characters. Story doesn't hang together. No resolution to real issues. Unrealistic.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karen Dautrich

    I was surprised to find so many rave reviews for a book that I found contrived and trite. My Naples based book club is reading the book, as is every other book club in Naples, and there are many. The title alone guaranteed a commercial success. I just wish the content had not been such a disappointment. Hearth made little effort to paint a picture of time and place with her words. I wanted to experience the early 60's in Naples the way Doris Kearns Goodwin had taken me to her childhood I was surprised to find so many rave reviews for a book that I found contrived and trite. My Naples based book club is reading the book, as is every other book club in Naples, and there are many. The title alone guaranteed a commercial success. I just wish the content had not been such a disappointment. Hearth made little effort to paint a picture of time and place with her words. I wanted to experience the early 60's in Naples the way Doris Kearns Goodwin had taken me to her childhood neighborhood in Wait Until Next Year . Didn't happen. I learned nothing about the early days of Naples. Did everyone live down a rutted, dusty, dirt road? The entire action of the novel takes place in the car, driving from one unlikely living situation to another. The dialogue is stilted, and the characters merely caricatures. Could Jackie not have had one human moment with her twin daughters? What were they - evil elves? The one developed scene was Dora's time tree climbing with the boy she loved who somehow became the man she didn't. What happened? And the names . . . Plain Jane being the most annoying. She never becomes Jane; it's Plain Jane to everyone in every situation throughout the book. What exactly was so plain about Jane who wrote racey sex articles with no appartant personal experience. This book might have been a fun idea with a great cover, but it is not quality fiction. .

  4. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

    Most of the other ARC readers have nothing but laud for this book, but I disagree with their praise. Amy Hill Hearth has a great concept for what could have been a classic Southern novel here, but it falls flat due to under editing and a desire to capitalize on the new wave of Southern fiction that is sure to follow the success of Stockett's sensational debut, The Help. The characters in Miss Dreamsville often seemed underdeveloped and one dimensional. Most of the book's major reveals into Most of the other ARC readers have nothing but laud for this book, but I disagree with their praise. Amy Hill Hearth has a great concept for what could have been a classic Southern novel here, but it falls flat due to under editing and a desire to capitalize on the new wave of Southern fiction that is sure to follow the success of Stockett's sensational debut, The Help. The characters in Miss Dreamsville often seemed underdeveloped and one dimensional. Most of the book's major reveals into character background take place in a single sequence, coming as quickly as fire from a machine gun in unenchanting and brief dialog. The narrator provided no insight into why she knew details about scenes she wasn't present for and also failed to truly confide in the audience. She could have gone the way of Nick Carraway or Ninny Threadgoode, but instead gives away vital details that could have been the book's driving mysteries, most notably the identity of Miss Dreamsville. Ironically, in it's present state the book seemed too long but with proper development could have stood to be longer, ambling along with a true Southern drawl rather than the Yankee directness that pervades its pages.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I loved this book! What a great read. I completely felt like I was part of this small town group of misfit friends along for the ride during the changing times in their world of the early 1960's. It's a great commentary on the social status and acceptance of the individuals of this time period without being over the top. It was a friendly and inviting read. I wanted to be part of their "movement"/book club. Hearth has a great voice expressed in all her characters and is a wonderful storyteller. I loved this book! What a great read. I completely felt like I was part of this small town group of misfit friends along for the ride during the changing times in their world of the early 1960's. It's a great commentary on the social status and acceptance of the individuals of this time period without being over the top. It was a friendly and inviting read. I wanted to be part of their "movement"/book club. Hearth has a great voice expressed in all her characters and is a wonderful storyteller. I look forward to more from her. Thanks Goodreads! ***Please note I received this book for free from Goodreads First-reads.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    I really thought this was going to be a little bit more humorous that what it actually was. While it did have some humor towards the middle of the book, I still enjoyed this book very much. There were a lot of secrets going on, a LOT of quirky characters, revenge on an ex (loved it!!), book club meetings, gossip, friendship, loyalty, and sometimes informational. It really held my attention. I thought it was a great story and had a great flow going. I read through it pretty quickly, not that it I really thought this was going to be a little bit more humorous that what it actually was. While it did have some humor towards the middle of the book, I still enjoyed this book very much. There were a lot of secrets going on, a LOT of quirky characters, revenge on an ex (loved it!!), book club meetings, gossip, friendship, loyalty, and sometimes informational. It really held my attention. I thought it was a great story and had a great flow going. I read through it pretty quickly, not that it was action packed, but it was a fun read. I would like to thank Atria Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read and review this entertaining and enjoyable e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    3.5 Stars A group of women fight back against a land developing company in Naples, Florida in the 1960's. It was a quick, lighthearted read with a few zany and unforgettable characters. There was a twist at the end that wasn't really a big surprise if you were paying attention. But, not bad for a Kindle e book special I purchased many, many moons ago.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shelleyrae at Book'd Out

    In Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society, Dora 'Turtle Lady' Witherspoon relates the adventures of six unlikely friends in southern Florida during 1962. Jackie Hart maybe a 'yankee carpetbagger' but dowdy postal worker Dora can't help but admire the seemingly effortless glamour of Collier County's newest resident. Dora, recently divorced and lonely, is flattered when Jackie invites her to the inaugural meeting of the Collier County Women's Literary Society at the In Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society, Dora 'Turtle Lady' Witherspoon relates the adventures of six unlikely friends in southern Florida during 1962. Jackie Hart maybe a 'yankee carpetbagger' but dowdy postal worker Dora can't help but admire the seemingly effortless glamour of Collier County's newest resident. Dora, recently divorced and lonely, is flattered when Jackie invites her to the inaugural meeting of the Collier County Women's Literary Society at the town's library. Seated on folding chairs in a little circle Dora is shocked to learn she is in the company of a convicted murderer, a coloured maid, a homosexual (whose mother catches gators) and a spinster, with the small group presided over by Jackie and the head librarian, Miss Lansbury. Yet as this bunch of misfits discuss the dangers of DDT (Silent Spring) and whether Holly Golighlty was a call girl or just a popular society companion (Breakfast at Tiffany's), they become friends who, in the face of the rampant bigotry, sexism and social conformity of the time, find the courage to become more than what is expected of them. The characters of Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society are colourful and appealing. I loved all of the unintentionally subversive members of the group who so simply want little else than to be who they are. The development of their friendship, spearheaded by Jackie, is heartwarming and everyone has a secret or story to share. With it's conversational tone, charming southern accent and clever wit, you might be fooled into thinking this novel is nothing more than light entertainment, but it includes a powerful message encouraging tolerance, respect and dignity. Beneath the veneer of southern civility in Collier County is a small town mired in the issues of the early 1960's, rich white men hold all the power, the Ku Klux Klan actively terrifies the local black population, women's liberation is a sinful idea and the Cuban Missile Crisis has everyone on edge. Hearth's characters confront these issues as they face the injustices of the narrow minded community. Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society is a quick and enchanting read. Funny, charming and yet thoughtful I thought it was a delight and I would love to hear more of Dora's stories.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Book Him Danno

    I’ve read a few disappointing books lately and was a bit worried about this title, but no need to worry after all….I LOVED IT!!! Get this book and read it... Yes I loved this book. What a fun, thought-provoking look at life in Florida in the early 60’s. The characters were well written, diverse and interesting to boot. Tracy is a woman to get behind. She is unsatisfied with her life and goes out and changes things for the better. She does this in her own life so she sees no reason not to do it I’ve read a few disappointing books lately and was a bit worried about this title, but no need to worry after all….I LOVED IT!!! Get this book and read it... Yes I loved this book. What a fun, thought-provoking look at life in Florida in the early 60’s. The characters were well written, diverse and interesting to boot. Tracy is a woman to get behind. She is unsatisfied with her life and goes out and changes things for the better. She does this in her own life so she sees no reason not to do it for others. Sometimes that is a mistake, but she seems to roll with the punches very well. She admits her mistakes, maybe not right away but eventually. A friend in deed is this woman and the people who befriend her back, are changed forever(in a good way.) The main characters form an interesting group of mis-fits who find a home with each other, even with their huge differences. I loved the way they talked in the group, the dialogue was quick and easy to read. The book flowed well and read fast. I would loved to have been at one of their book meetings and even think I could have fit in well there. Maybe a mis-fit in my own right and yet ready for friends like these who will stand up for you in a pinch and love you no matter what or who you really are…of course a true friend already knows…maybe even before you do. This is a feel good book with an ending that will make you laugh and maybe even cry. A braver woman has never been, walking around in a housecoat and muddy legs at a festival….you have to read this book. When I finished it I put it down reluctantly and thought, “Wow, that was a good book and a great way to spend the afternoon.” If you enjoy women’s fiction then you will enjoy this book. I’ve read three others this week and this one stands heads and shoulders above the others. Funny, heartwarming, feel-good reading that I wish more books were like. If you enjoyed, The Help, you will enjoy this book even with the differences. This is a book for anyone. Go out there and buy a copy today…you won’t be disappointed.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    A nostalgic look back to when women stayed home and men went to work. Jackie Hart and her family moved from Boston to a town in Florida that was definitely old fashioned. You will meet Jackie and you will also meet an unmarried librarian, an unmarried lady who secretly writes sex novels for a publisher in New York, a divorced woman who works in the Post Office, a woman just out of jail for killing her husband, a maid, and an eccentric male. This group met once a week for a book club which they A nostalgic look back to when women stayed home and men went to work. Jackie Hart and her family moved from Boston to a town in Florida that was definitely old fashioned. You will meet Jackie and you will also meet an unmarried librarian, an unmarried lady who secretly writes sex novels for a publisher in New York, a divorced woman who works in the Post Office, a woman just out of jail for killing her husband, a maid, and an eccentric male. This group met once a week for a book club which they call The Collier County Women's Literary Society. The characters are all quite diverse but warm and caring. Out of the blue, one of the book club members decides to do a late night radio show, and the entire town is in an uproar trying to figure out who it is especially since her name is none other than Miss Dreamsville. This book was so fun, and took you back to a different lifestyle that our mothers probably were a part of.....well, at least my mother. :). It was a simpler life but also one that was strict. It isn't a book I normally read, but I did enjoy it.....a nice light read and change of pace. It will make you laugh, but it will also make you wonder if it really would be a time period where you want to live. The characters were all different and showed that “different” is what makes the world go round. How could it all work out if we were all the same? The characters worked together perfectly in the book. It did get a little dramatic at times, but overall a fun read and one that makes note that all of us are different yet all of us are the same. 4/5 This book was given to me free of charge by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A decent book though there is nothing great about it. Though it has a catchy and seemingly cozy title and it is cozy, at places it addresses uncomfortable topics like racial apartheid and even Homosexuality. And the prejudices of the Southerners to Northerners would put the caste discrimination in India to shame.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    It was almost a 4 star book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jen C (ReadinginWBL)

    My Review: Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a novel which touches on issues such as racism, homophobia and feminism in a heart warming and humorous way. Though these issues are heavy this story is entertaining and evokes real emotions about the various characters. Jackie a housewife from Boston and her family move to the Deep South in the racial charged 1960s. Jackie starts this controversial Literary Society when moving to Collier County. This novel is My Review: Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a novel which touches on issues such as racism, homophobia and feminism in a heart warming and humorous way. Though these issues are heavy this story is entertaining and evokes real emotions about the various characters. Jackie a housewife from Boston and her family move to the Deep South in the racial charged 1960s. Jackie starts this controversial Literary Society when moving to Collier County. This novel is narrated by Dora, one of the lovable misfits that make up the Literary Society. Each member of the Literary Society bring something different to the table during a time in history when different was not a valued attribute. The members of the Literary Society are colorful and lovable. I can’t even chose a favorite character as I loved them all. I especially would love to see a movie made of this book just so I can see Dolores, the alligator hunter. My image of her in my mind is pretty entertaining!! The Literary Society is a group of people who are different, but develop a real friendship despite their differences. Change is possible when people look beyond their difference and find their common ground. For this group one common ground discovered was reading/books. Jackie, the Literary Society originator had good intentions and wanted to change the injustices she saw in her new home, Naples. She didn’t always approach the issues in the best manner and was not always successful, but her intentions were good. After this group has an incident with the Ku Klux Klan, it looks like all was for naught. Can things really change?? But everything turns around for the group and the ending is very satisfying. The group leaves a lasting impression on Naples, Florida. I loved the ending! Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a debut novel by Amy Hill Hearth and will be available for purchase on October 2, 2012. If you enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, you will love Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society. The characters really make the story!! My Rating: 4/5 – The story flowed well and the characters were wonderful! I still smile thinking of the image in my head of each character. A wonderful debut novel that kept me up a few nights later than a girl who needs to get to work on time should stay up!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Patty

    Miss Williams And The Collier County Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth My "in a nutshell summary"... Naples, Florida as it was in the 60's...when life was restricted and regimented. My thoughts after reading this book... OMG...quirky Southern characters, hysterical situations and the rules of the 60's make this an unforgettable novel. It's based around the residents of a book club that can't really even be called a book club. It is called a salon. The members are the town librarian, a transplanted Miss Williams And The Collier County Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth My "in a nutshell summary"... Naples, Florida as it was in the 60's...when life was restricted and regimented.   My thoughts after reading this book... OMG...quirky Southern characters, hysterical situations and the rules of the 60's make this an unforgettable novel. It's based around the residents of a book club that can't really  even be called a book club.  It is called a salon.  The members are the town librarian, a transplanted Easterner, a divorced turtle saving postal worker, a recently released from prison resident, a black maid, and an in the closet gay man whose mother hunts alligators...oh and another old Naples resident who writes romance novels under an assumed name! It's also set in a sort of civil rights or lack of civil rights era...the Klan is burning churches, black men and women are still attending separate schools and still sitting in the back of the bus. One of the "salon" members...Jackie...is a rebel.  She is at the heart of many situations...and there  are a lot of them.  She runs down Klansmen, defies the traditions that are steeped in being a Southern woman, drives her long suffering husband totally crazy and becomes a secret radio personality that drives everyone to distraction.   There are tons of situations similar to this that Jackie seems to be the CEO of...lol. What I loved about this book... The characters, of course.  You never knew what they were going to say!  Dora...the turtle savior...and the narrator of the story...loved her...loved the unfolding of everyone's true life stories.   What I did not like... It's easy to forget about the narrow-mindedness of the South in the 60's and the way some people were treated...i.e...women and blacks! Final thoughts... I found this to be a lovely book...sweet, thought provoking, funny.  It will be a great book club book.  It will provide lots of opportunities for fascinating discussions.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    This novel is set in Naples, Florida in the 1960's. The style of writing reminded me of the novels by Fannie Flagg in how it pokes fun at Southern customs and traditions and is set in a small town. However, in the midst of the humor, it also takes on serious issues such as the presence and activities of the Ku Klux Klan, obstacles African-American people (called 'colored' people in the novel according to the time period it was set in)faced--especially in the South, and the stereotypes limits This novel is set in Naples, Florida in the 1960's. The style of writing reminded me of the novels by Fannie Flagg in how it pokes fun at Southern customs and traditions and is set in a small town. However, in the midst of the humor, it also takes on serious issues such as the presence and activities of the Ku Klux Klan, obstacles African-American people (called 'colored' people in the novel according to the time period it was set in)faced--especially in the South, and the stereotypes limits women faced when they wanted to be more than 'just a housewife. The main characters of the novel are Dora Witherspoon (also known as the 'Turtle Lady'),a divorced woman in her late 20's, Jackie Hart, recently moved to Naples from Boston, Mrs. Bailey White, an elderly woman who was just released from prison a year before for allegedly killing her husband, Priscilla, a young African-American woman who loves to read and learn but works as a maid, Plain Jane, a woman in her 50's who secretly writes magazine articles about sex, Miss Lansbury, the local librarian, and Robbie-Lee Simpson, a Sears employee and Collier County's only obvious gay person (or homosexual as described in the novel---this novel took place long before the term 'gay' was used for that purpose. The book starts out with the arrival of Jackie Hart coming to Collier County. Jackie has too much energy to settle for being a housewife and mother to 3 teenagers so sets out to start a reading group---the Collier County Literary Society. The 6 characters mentioned above make up the group. This group is only the beginning of the changes Jackie sets in place among the members of the group and in the town of Naples. In her headstrong way, she challenges prejudices and 'sacred' traditions. I found this book delightful to read and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Fannie Flagg, Garrison Keillor and other authors who write about the lives of people in small town America.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    Amy Hill Hearth is a wonderful storyteller. This is a story of friendship. It is a story of a time and a place that are gone forever. It is a story about ordinary people being brave. And a story of love. Set in early 1960s small town Florida and told by Dora Witherspoon, the Turtle Lady, a young divorcee who is trying to get on with her life and making new friends. It is a story about Southern women, one transplanted Northern woman and a gay man in a time when men were not gay. Sometimes the Amy Hill Hearth is a wonderful storyteller. This is a story of friendship. It is a story of a time and a place that are gone forever. It is a story about ordinary people being brave. And a story of love. Set in early 1960s small town Florida and told by Dora Witherspoon, the Turtle Lady, a young divorcee who is trying to get on with her life and making new friends. It is a story about Southern women, one transplanted Northern woman and a gay man in a time when men were not gay. Sometimes the bravest thing you can do is live your life the way you want to. When I think of Florida I don't think of it as part of the antebellum south ( I tend to think of it as a giant theme park, retirement haven and Cuban culture) but in the early 1960s Florida was still part of the deep south. Segregation was ever present and it did not seem to long ago that slavery existed. I find this all so fascinating as I will be in Florida for a conference next month and now I 'm going to be looking for signs of Old Florida everywhere I go. Hearth made these characters come alive on the page. You could feel what they were going through and you were glad they found each other. Jackie Hart, an outspoken Northern woman transplanted in Florida makes things happen! She is the undisputed star of this book and the title character. Miss Dreamsville anonymously hosts a radio program late at night. Everyone wonders who she is. She is considered the ultimate woman and adored by her fans. Yet they've never seen her. People do tend to jump to conclusions don't they. Great book! You'll warm to all the characters right away. Short read but full of emotion. It will be released on October 2nd. Be sure to pre-order a copy!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Pam Asberry

    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 town in which she lives. Her world 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 town 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!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Amy Hearth

    "Amy Hill Hearth's first novel is a charming and funny snapshot of life in a tiny Florida town in 1962. It's also a sweet-tart reminder that those good old days weren't so good for everybody." - Colette Bancroft, the Tampa Bay Times Jacket quotes: "Amy Hill Hearth's delightful first novel, MISS DREAMSVILLE, is a rollicking, provocative tale about how reading and meeting others who are different can be the most subversive of acts." - Ruth Pennebaker, author of WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS "Amy Hill Hearth's first novel is a charming and funny snapshot of life in a tiny Florida town in 1962. It's also a sweet-tart reminder that those good old days weren't so good for everybody." - Colette Bancroft, the Tampa Bay Times Jacket quotes: "Amy Hill Hearth's delightful first novel, MISS DREAMSVILLE, is a rollicking, provocative tale about how reading and meeting others who are different can be the most subversive of acts." - Ruth Pennebaker, author of WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKTHROUGH "Amy Hill Hearth honors and humanizes people and their wonderful diversities in her debut novel, MISS DREAMSVILLE AND THE COLLIER COUNTY WOMEN'S LITERARY SOCIETY. What a laudable book!" - Camille O. Cosby "You could learn a lot about life from reading this book. Most of all, be daring, be friends, be true to yourself. By the end, I cried and I must say, I wouldn't mind hearing more about each of the richly painted characters." - Patricia Harman, author of THE MIDWIFE OF HOPE COUNTY "Set in Naples [Florida] in the early 1960s, its local color and plot will surprise Florida natives and visitors alike." - Enid Shomer, author of THE TWELVE ROOMS OF THE NILE

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I enjoyed this book. Even though it is set during a time of change, it is not so much about a particular era as it is about the changing attitudes of people living in those times. Dora works at the post office, and, so, has a chance to read bits of the interesting magazines that pass through her hands. It's also how she manages to meet Jackie, a Yankee who has moved south with her family, and is a bit at loose ends, since she really doesn't have a good fit with the local society. Jackie's solution I enjoyed this book. Even though it is set during a time of change, it is not so much about a particular era as it is about the changing attitudes of people living in those times. Dora works at the post office, and, so, has a chance to read bits of the interesting magazines that pass through her hands. It's also how she manages to meet Jackie, a Yankee who has moved south with her family, and is a bit at loose ends, since she really doesn't have a good fit with the local society. Jackie's solution is to start a reading group. It meets in the library, and has the librarian's approval, so that's all good, but since Jackie has no idea of propper behavior, she invites a young black woman and a "closet" (at least HE thinks no one else knows) homosexual, and an elderly woman who has just gotten out of prison after serving time for killing her husband. Their association leads them to a new appreciation of each other as people, and their book discussions aid in that. It's slightly predictable, but in a nice, enjoyable way.

  20. 5 out of 5

    C.R. Elliott

    First, a disclaimer: I received this book through Goodreads giveaways. Miss Dreamville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hearth is an entertaining read. It seems written for the screen, which is its strength and weakness. It is a light read that has a bit of everything. The characters were enjoyable, diverse enough to create a little tension but with enough in common to have a genuine reason to be kind to each other any way. The setting gives it the right elements to feel First, a disclaimer: I received this book through Goodreads giveaways. Miss Dreamville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hearth is an entertaining read. It seems written for the screen, which is its strength and weakness. It is a light read that has a bit of everything. The characters were enjoyable, diverse enough to create a little tension but with enough in common to have a genuine reason to be kind to each other any way. The setting gives it the right elements to feel relevant to history and the present. There's humor, bittersweet moments and attitude. That said, it felt too short. It is ready for the screen is because with all that wonderful potential to delve deeper into its own atmosphere, the story breezes by without giving us too much of anyone but Jackie Hart. It is Jackie's world and everyone else just lives in it. But of course, a book about the other members of the Literary Society would have been something else altogether.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is a really pleasurable book to read with a nice mix of 1960s Florida, gentle humor and mild drama. The story is compelling and keeps the reader's interest even though it is not always clear what the main storyline is. A group of outsiders in a small Florida town gather together in a reading group and learn more about themselves and one another through their membership in the group. Several of the more important events don't actually involve the reading group directly but become major This is a really pleasurable book to read with a nice mix of 1960s Florida, gentle humor and mild drama. The story is compelling and keeps the reader's interest even though it is not always clear what the main storyline is. A group of outsiders in a small Florida town gather together in a reading group and learn more about themselves and one another through their membership in the group. Several of the more important events don't actually involve the reading group directly but become major events in the story. The title actually refers to just one member of the reading group and that is also confusing. I enjoyed reading the book and found the writing and story interesting and compelling. On reflection, the whole book did not come together as well as it might have. The final summary of the characters at the end seemed surprising because it was such a leap for those characters; they had not developed enough for those outcomes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

    What a story; this gal has an amazing talent! The book begins with Dora, now 80, reminiscing about her past and when she was a 30 year old divorcee. She told a story of how she became friends with a Yankee, an ex-murderer, a young African American girl, a poetry writer, a librarian, and Robbie-Lee. It was Jackie, who formed the Collier County Women's Literary Society because she needed something to do other than being a housewife. The newly formed group of misfits would not only become reading What a story; this gal has an amazing talent! The book begins with Dora, now 80, reminiscing about her past and when she was a 30 year old divorcee. She told a story of how she became friends with a Yankee, an ex-murderer, a young African American girl, a poetry writer, a librarian, and Robbie-Lee. It was Jackie, who formed the Collier County Women's Literary Society because she needed something to do other than being a housewife. The newly formed group of misfits would not only become reading buddies they'd become close friends. The story tells about Florida history within Collier County and how this group inspired each other to live life to its fullest. It's fun, extremely well written, charming, and such a refreshing read. I loved hearing Dora's story and I never wanted it to end.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    i desperately needed something to read as I traveled, and quickly ran into the newsstand at the Savannah Airport and grabbed this book. I had never heard of the book, nor did I immediately recognize the author's name. I am a sucker for Southern fiction, though, so figured I would give this book a whirl. I am so glad I did! I very quickly was absorbed in 1962 Collier County, and loved the quirky characters. There is not a "hot button" issue from that time period that Amy Hill Hearth did not i desperately needed something to read as I traveled, and quickly ran into the newsstand at the Savannah Airport and grabbed this book. I had never heard of the book, nor did I immediately recognize the author's name. I am a sucker for Southern fiction, though, so figured I would give this book a whirl. I am so glad I did! I very quickly was absorbed in 1962 Collier County, and loved the quirky characters. There is not a "hot button" issue from that time period that Amy Hill Hearth did not masterfully develop in this novel. Many of you may recognize the author, but not as an author of fiction. She is the author of many nonfiction books, including co-author of Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years", which was not only a bestseller but also a wonderful Broadway play.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    I vacillated on the rating for this one. It was, in some ways, a fun, quick read about some enjoyable characters. It had its amusing moments. But instead of letting the story and the characters deliver the message naturally--one of the wonderful things about The Help, for example--this author seemed to want to hit you over the head with her messages, detracting from the story. I think this is partially due to the fact that much of the character development seemed rushed and one-dimensional. It I vacillated on the rating for this one. It was, in some ways, a fun, quick read about some enjoyable characters. It had its amusing moments. But instead of letting the story and the characters deliver the message naturally--one of the wonderful things about The Help, for example--this author seemed to want to hit you over the head with her messages, detracting from the story. I think this is partially due to the fact that much of the character development seemed rushed and one-dimensional. It may also be due to the narration style, which I found kind of clunky and strange. Still, it was an enjoyable enough book that it didn't feel like a waste of time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mo

    None of the characters seemed to speak with their own “voice”. When a character is well written, you can open the book to a random page and immediately know which character is speaking because there is that certain something that is distinctive only to them. Jackie was the most identifiable, but the others all seemed interchangeable. And I am not talking about content, I am talking about vocabulary, expression, parlance, patois…. Based on their language, I would never even be able to tell that None of the characters seemed to speak with their own “voice”. When a character is well written, you can open the book to a random page and immediately know which character is speaking because there is that certain something that is distinctive only to them. Jackie was the most identifiable, but the others all seemed interchangeable. And I am not talking about content, I am talking about vocabulary, expression, parlance, patois…. Based on their language, I would never even be able to tell that these people were from the South! The story was okay, but the characters were very one dimensional.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sheila

    I enjoyed this book. It was fun. I laughed. I cringed. Jackie and her family move to Naples, Florida from Boston. She is a fish out of water. She also creates the Collier County Women's Literary Society. The members are the outcasts of the community but they create friendships that are lasting and strong. They are there for each other and provide support none of them had ever had. I loved the strength of these friendships and how they changed the lives of those in the group and those in their I enjoyed this book. It was fun. I laughed. I cringed. Jackie and her family move to Naples, Florida from Boston. She is a fish out of water. She also creates the Collier County Women's Literary Society. The members are the outcasts of the community but they create friendships that are lasting and strong. They are there for each other and provide support none of them had ever had. I loved the strength of these friendships and how they changed the lives of those in the group and those in their families. This is a keeper!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    A group of social misfits join together to form a book club at their small town library. Set in the south in a small town in Florida during the sixties the group is made up of a divorcee, an old maid, a gay man, a Northerner, a young black woman, an ex-con and the librarian with secrets of her own. The way these quite different individuals become friends and end up affecting each other's lives is a lovely tale.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    What a delightful well written story. I so love the members of the Collier County Women's Literary Society. Amy Hill Hearth brought the old Florida alive with her story set in the early sixties. Jackie should have been my favorite character and I loved her, but I think I had to say Robbie Lee and Priscilla stole my heart. And of course there was the turtle lady. You'll just have to read the book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jan Polep

    Picture this...1960's Naples' book discussion club full of quirky characters including one "Northerner"...a recipe for mild humor and a fast pass at social issues in a segregated Florida town, but it could have been so much more. As a former library worker and current library trustee, I did love the line that the Naples library trustees were okay with the club meeting at the library... as long as they didn't read any books about Lincoln!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Huntsinger

    What a wonderful story and an eye opening look at Florida in the 60's-- you knew it was the South and that there was segregation, but this story really brought it to the forefront. Even though it's fiction, you find out that the klan was found in Northern states-- a scary prospect and one i'm glad to not have lived through. I highly recommend this book and give it 5 stars.

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