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Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society: A Novel Paperback – October 2, 2012

88 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Naples, Florida, was nothing but a tiny backwater in the 1960s. Dora Witherspoon, called the Turtle Lady for her tendency to rescue injured snapping turtles, is resigned to being back in town. The scandal of her divorce is soon eclipsed by the arrival of Jackie Hart, a middle-aged, fabulous, and dissatisfied Boston housewife. With the help of the town librarian, Jackie forms the Collier County Women’s Literary Society. The reading group (or salon, as she insists) attracts the town misfits: Plain Jane, a spinster with a secret career; Robbie-Lee Simpson, the town’s only gay man; Miss Bailey White, fresh out of prison for killing her husband; and Priscilla Harmon, a young African American maid with dreams of higher education. Jackie stirs up more than just literary discussion as she adjusts to southern ways, running afoul of her husband’s boss and the local Klan chapter. The so-called misfits of the town are good company, although a few very early revelations eliminate some much-needed tension. This first novel is a sweet story of female bonding and southern grit that will remind readers of Fannie Flagg. --Susan Maguire

Review

"Sometimes, an exceptional writer finds an exceptional premise, and the result is a truly exceptional book. Such is the case with 'Miss Dreamsville'...The writing is brilliant, especially the dialogue through which the characters are defined." - Philip K. Jason/Southern Literary Review

"This first novel is a sweet story of female bonding and southern grit that will remind readers of Fannie Flagg." - Booklist/American Library Association

Amy Hill Hearth's delightful first novel, Miss Dreamville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society 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. She astutely weaves pertinent, factual histories into her fictional debut novel. What a laudable book!" –Camille O. Cosby

“Segregation, feminism, gays coming out, interracial dating, it’s all in there, written as it happened in small towns everywhere. And wisdom; 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 River, Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey and The Blue Cotton Gown

Miss Dreamsville‘s cast of characters includes a postmistress, a librarian, a convicted murderer, a northern transplant, a lone African-American girl, and an even lonelier gay man, among others. Set in Naples 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

“It’s a fun novel that flies by and makes readers glad Hearth is expanding her own literary horizons.” (The Hearld Sun)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451675232
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451675238
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Amy Hill Hearth (pronounced HARTH) is a New York Times Bestselling Author and an American Library Association "Notable Book" Winner. She is the author or co-author of seven nonfiction books, including the classic oral history, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (1993). Having Our Say was adapted for Broadway and for an award-winning telefilm. In 2012, Simon & Schuster published her first novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society, a Simon & Schuster Book Club pick, a Reader's Digest "Select Edition" and the January 2013 selection of the 600-chapter Pulpwood Queens Book Club. Amy's sequel, Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, will be published on Sept. 8, 2015 and is available for Pre-Order. For additional information, please visit www.amyhillhearth.com

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By C. McGowan on January 20, 2013
Format: Paperback
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth was a pleasant surprise. I picked up this book in the airport, the cover drew me in (I'm a sucker for a matte cover with good, nostalgic artwork) and started reading it right away. The story unfolds in the swamps of Florida where alligator hunting women and Yankees mingle in comfortable uncomfortableness.

Dora, the narrator, but not always the protagonist of this quaint and charming book, is looking back on her life; on a time when an awkward group of women (and one "sweet" man) formed the first ever book club headed up by none other than Jackie Hart. Jackie is the new girl in town, from the North, which might as well be the same as saying she were from Hades as far as these small-towners are concerned. Jackie is progressive, a thinker, and hates to be called a housewife. Finding Collier County just a bit dull, and nothing like her native Boston, Jackie sets out to create culture in a town where the biggest event of the year is a festival celebrating mud.

It isn't long before she gathers together a misfit group of women that all like to read. And it's quite the group: one librarian, one divorcee, one parolee, one sweet man, one "plain Jane," one negro girl (did I mention this book is set in the early sixties before the Civil Rights movement?), and one Yankee "bitch" all gathered together to discuss the literary merits of what books they can actually agree to read.

But, as with book clubs, life becomes a viable piece of discussion matter outside the pages of the text and the odd little group finds themselves knitted closely to one another so that the fabric of their lives becomes one in the same.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Robin Gaither on November 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first saw this book on a shelf in an airport bookstore and the cover and the first few pages I read made we want to buy it for my Kindle. So good for the cover designer! After the first few chapters - which held a lot of promise for a good read - the story line began to deteriorate. Before I was halfway through the book, not only did I know what was going to happen, I was disappointed in how what happened was written.

There are some compelling stories buried in most of the characters. But rather than bring them out with some good writing, several of them were glossed over in chapters of the book that would have perfect for their character development. Some of them were described only briefly in a litany at the end of the book. There was at least one major story line - the librarian's - that was introduced and closed in just one paragraph!

I had hoped I was reading a book to recommend to my book club. But I won't insult them with bringing this one to the table. And I'm certainly glad I didn't spend the extra money to buy that paper book to read on the airplane - it was bad enough that I bought an eBook.
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Format: Paperback
I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.

This is one of those books that I am drawn to because of the beautiful cover and the adorable (and absurdly long) title. I was hoping that I loved this book and I was not disappointed. The story is told by Dora looking back into the year 1962 when the feisty Jackie Hart moves to Collier County from Boston. Jackie starts a book club whose members don't quite fit into society for their own reasons (a divorced woman, a convicted murderer, a Yankee, a homosexual, a young black woman who dreams of attending college). Reviewing books becomes a background to the friendships and adventures that originate with the book club ladies (and man). The author does a flawless job with switching back and forth between the point of view of Dora and that of Jackie Hart. One chapter started with Jackie as the narrator and ended with Dora as the narrator. The transition was perfect and absolutely flawless.

This story quaint, quirky, and endlessly entertaining. I loved all of the characters. Being that the story is set in the early 1960s, there is much political and social turmoil over women's rights, "negro" rights, and homosexuality. The author did a fabulous job of treading on the issues lightly by adding humor and personality. I often find the topic of women's rights tiresome because of the "poor me" attitude injected into many stories. This was absolutely not the case in this book.

Because I am a Northerner who is living in the South, it was SO MUCH fun reading about the North/South conflicts and social differences. I loved the comparisons of behavior, politics, fashion, food, etc. It really hit home for me because I love so many things about both the North and the South. Stereotypes often really do ring true.

This was a wonderful, quick read and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading Southern fiction!!
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Format: Paperback
From the first page on I knew that this book and I would become the best of friends. I happen to be a Southern Belle, and this book is based deep, deep in the South. I was already in love. I love reading Southern Fiction and especially Southern Fiction that is set anytime in the past. This book takes place in 1962, right smack in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. We are given a cast of highly unlikely characters who form what is known as the Women's Literary Society and take the town of Naples, Florida by storm.

There is so much humor to be found in this book. We are given, as stated before, a cast of highly unlikely characters who are joined together in what is essentially a women's book club, well except for Robbie-Lee, Naples's only known homosexual. Each of these characters has some pretty interesting mannerisms and traits that constantly kept me laughing out loud. Our main character, Dora, has a tendency for taking in oversized turtles that could grab hold of her at any second and refuse to let go, and even the thought of this makes me laugh. One of the members calls herself Plain Jane and another one is an ex-con who murdered her husband some years before. If you don't catch the drift by now, they are all hilarious! I can just picture them all now, and how I wish I could have been a fly on the wall.

This book is stocked full of historical information and is a great representation of its time. Like I said before, it takes place in the 1960's when the Civil Rights Movement was at its height. Things in the South were a little different from the rest of the nation, and threats of terrorist attack from Russia were rampant as well. I could feel the down home country feel that made up the town of Naples and the Southern twang/dialect used by our narrator matches my own.
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