From Publishers Weekly
In her charming new novel, Dallas (The Persian Pickle Club
; etc.) offers up the unconventional friendship between Hennie Comfort, a natural storyteller entering the twilight of her life, and Nit Spindle, a naïve young newlywed, forged in the isolated mining town of Middle Swan, Colo., in 1936. When the two meet, Hennie recognizes her younger self in Nit, and she's immediately struck with a desire to nurture and guide Nit, who is lonely and adrift in her new hometown and her brand-new marriage. As Hennie regales Nit with stories and advice, the two become inseparable and pass several seasons huddled around their quilting with the other women of Middle Swan. Even though Hennie maintains an air of c'est la vie
as she unravels her life story, Nit and the reader soon realize there are tragedies and secrets hidden behind Hennie's tranquil demeanor. This satisfying novel will immediately draw readers into Hennie and Nit's lives, and the unexpected twists will keep them hooked through to the bittersweet denouement. (Apr.)
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*Starred Review* The idea of selling prayers conjures images of pre-Reformation Catholicism or, at the very least, stops you in your tracks to think a bit. When Nit Spindle, a newcomer to Middle Swan, Colorado, spots Hennie Comfort’s sign, “Prayers for Sale,” she stops to buy a prayer and gains a friend. At 86, Hennie has a passel of stories to tell (one is how she got her name) and finds in Nit an eager listener and kindred spirit. In the telling of Hennie’s life—her two marriages, her brush with evil, her dead babies—and in the gradual elicitation of Nit’s lonely ponderings, the reader is treated to an oral history of a mountain town and the women who run it while the men are chasing their dreams of gold. Hennie considers passing along her stories and her knowledge of mountain life to Nit a fit pastime, in preparation for her departure from town. Like the lives narrated, this novel, by the author of Tallgrass (2007), runs the gamut of heartache, hardship, and happiness as Dallas skillfully weaves past into present and surprises everyone at the end. Fans of Lee Smith (Fair and Tender Ladies, 1988), Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees, 2002), and Kaye Gibbons (Charms for the Easy Life, 2003), will love this book. --Jen Baker