I really enjoyed this book. It is very much in the same vein as Barrows’ first book ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’, with a historical setting, small community, loveable characters and gentle humour. However, in this novel the action is transplanted to a small town in America, Macedonia in West Virginia and the year 1938.
The novel follows characters from the Romeyn family and their lodger Layla Beck, a senator’s daughter who is forced to join the Works Progress Administration as punishment for not marrying her father’s choice of husband and is sent to write the history of Macedonia. Her arrival sets into motion a series of events which unearth long hidden secrets in the Romeyns’ past and changes their lives forever.
The main narrator, 12 year old Willa Romeyn, realises that adults keep secrets and decides over the summer of 1938 to pay better attention to what is going on around her and get to the bottom of who her father and aunt really are. Her voice is sweet and insightful and she is a joy to spend time with and witness as she unravels her family’s secrets.
Barrows does a great job of evoking a sense of time and place and creating interesting, humourous, and fully-rounded characters, who are likeable in spite of their flaws. This is a gentle, well-paced and enjoyable read for people who love character-driven novels.