Miss Dreamsville & the Lost Heiress of Collier County

Posted September 7, 2015 by Elizabeth in book reviews/ 4 Comments

Miss Dreamsville & the Lost Heiress of Collier CountyMiss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County by Amy Hill Hearth
Genres: Contemporary Women, Historical
Published by Atria Books Source: NetGalley
September 8th 2015 | Pages: 320
Purchase on Amazon | Add to Goodreads

In this sequel to Amy Hill Hearth's debut novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society, the eponymous book club reunites one year later, in the late summer of 1964.
Their mission: to fight a large development along the tidal river where member Robbie-Lee grew up and where his mother, Dolores Simpson, a former stripper turned alligator hunter, still lives in a fishing shack. An old land deed, the discovery that one of the key characters has been using a false name, and a dramatic court hearing are just a few of the highlights. Not to mention the reappearance of the Ghost of Seminole Joe.

I received Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County  from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This does not influence my opinions or the content of my review. This review contains affiliate links and is in compliance with FTC guidelines.periwinkle-swirlI read Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society about a year ago, and will confess now that I found it just OK. I requested this second novel from NetGalley because I am always willing to give a second chance, and I’m very glad I did.  After reading this second installment, which has the same characters and cadence, I really don’t know why I was so “meh” about the first book. I must have been a grump that week, because this second book about the diverse readers of small town Naples, FL circa 1962 is funny, endearing, and interesting all at the same time. It is well-plotted and has many relevant topics to attract a variety of readers. In 1962, Naples was not the refuge from Northern winters it is today, Walt Disney was just starting to buy up swampland, and the Everglades were considered a waste of good land by many.

My top three reasons for enjoying Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County so much, in no particular order, are:

Southern expressions always make me laugh.

Photographer Bill Parker From J. Willis Sayre Photographs at University of Washington
Photographer Bill Parker From J. Willis Sayre Photographs at University of Washington

She was quivering like Aunt Pittypat in Gone with the Wind when the Yankees were shelling Atlanta.

Like it or not, in the South, nicknames stick like bare feet in a clay pit.

Here in the South, women were said to peak by twenty.

A wise person didn’t let a bobcat out of its cage and assume it would eat only varmints.

Mrs. Stanley was faster than a Chihuahua that smells a chicken bone.

These folks are party people. They got pickle juice in their veins.

I was happy as a Cheshire cat with a new container of Py-co-pay Tooth Powder.

Just when you think you have enough grit in your oysters, the devil has a way of upping the ante.

The Everglades is given such importance, it is almost a character.

Mixed in was a vague scent of decay, helped along by humidity that was almost indescribable, though a high-school friend had come close when he said it felt like being caught in a downpour, only it was raining up.The ‘Glades has its own particular sound, a constant, low droning that seemed to come from deep within the earth.

Everglades National Park cypress by National Park Service Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.
Everglades National Park cypress by National Park Service Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

This is why she had to fight to protect the river. For herself and her way of life, yes, but it was more than that. This place-the ‘Glades-felt eternal. In its own way, it was sacred, like the Grand Canyon, or that place in California with the giant trees.

This was not a wasteland. Far from it. She would fight for the little night heron, the mangrove trees, the flowing water, and the wild grasses. Surely the river had a right to survive.

Comparisons to the North and the behavior of Northerners are even funnier than Southern expressions, at least to this Northerner who once lived in the South.

Not that Jackie was a bad person. She was just a Yankee and, typical of the Northern-born, couldn’t leave well enough alone.

Why were Yankees so certain they understood the world better than anyone else?

I don’t know what got into me. I was horrified. Did I sound bitter? Sassy? Maybe even sarcastic? What was happening to me? Lawd have mercy, I might have learned it from Jackie! Wasn’t this a Yankee thing-not to speak up, necessarily, but to speak up in a way that made others uncomfortable? I certainly hadn’t learned this from one year living in Mississippi.

miss_dreamsville1These are just some of the funny and interesting quotes I found in Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County. There were also at least six references to Elizabeth Taylor, an actress and personality at her peak in the early 1960s, information about race relations in Florida at the time, and the role of women in society. There is something for everyone in this book, which can be seen as a light, quick read, if one so chooses, or thought about and discussed for the more political topics. Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County would encourage discussion on a variety of topics with a book group and I highly recommend it. Reading the first novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society, where Jackie first moves to Naples and starts to shake things up is not required to follow the second story.

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