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The Sweetheart Season: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – February 10, 1998


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The Sweetheart Season: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) + Sarah Canary + Sister Noon
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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; First Edition edition (February 10, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345416422
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345416421
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though most men had returned to their hometowns after World War II, few came back to the tiny village of Magrit, Minnesota. Irini, a nineteen year-old woman, works in the Scientific Kitchen at Margaret Mill, a cereal factory, with most of Magrit's other eligible bachelorettes. Hoping to promote his business and attract some suitors for his staff, the owner of the mill forms a women's baseball team called the Sweetwheat Sweethearts. Irini, who wields a fearsome throwing arm, strong from kneading bread dough, is the team's star center fielder and her successes, failures, and revelations on and off the ball field are endearingly recalled by her now grown daughter. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In the aftermath of WW II, halcyon days have not returned to Magrit, Minn., where the veterans have failed to come home. The men haven't died; they've just moved on to greener pastures, rejecting the local women, who served the war effort in the Scientific Kitchen of Margaret Mill. The mill was founded by patriarchal Henry Collins, the man responsible for Sweetwheats, the world's first puffed and sugar-coated cereal. Henry also invented Maggie Collins, a fictional Betty Crocker-type icon whose popular magazine column gained her the vote as the "most admired woman in America" in 1945. As part of a publicity campaign (and to avoid the formation of a union), Henry creates the Sweetwheats Sweethearts all-girl baseball team, convincing the mill girls that this activity will help them find husbands. The now-adult daughter of a Sweetheart recalls the team's history in a wry, witty voice that balances our revisionist present with the romanticized past. Fowler's (Sarah Canary) authentically detailed and clever novel is frequently digressive, but the digressions charm. Deadpan irony ("The Baldishes had been among the first to explore the possibilities of decorating with deer") and quirky characters worthy of Dickens raise the entertainment quotient. With fictional Magrit, Fowler depicts our nation's past as more surreal than real, while at the same time slamming her novel out of the ballpark. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Douglas A. Greenberg VINE VOICE on July 29, 1998
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book. Karen Joy Fowler has written a novel that marks out a genre all its own, as it is not quite an "historical novel," not quite science fiction, not quite feminist fiction, and not quite fantasy. It succeeds in being imaginative, politically astute, and historically informative, however, as Ms. Fowler uses the events of the story as a vehicle for including endless anecdotes, "fun facts," and asides that reveal her vast and intricate knowledge of U.S. political and social history. There's even a plethora of "homemaker tips" included, for good measure. The plot is not the point here; in this novel, the "journey is the reward," as each and every page includes verbal gems and incisive bits of social commentary and are endlessly engrossing and enlightening.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard R. Horton on August 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
The Sweetheart Season concerns a small town in northern Minnesota, Magrit, home to a grain mill and an associated cereal business. It is set in 1947. The viewpoint character is Irini Doyle, though the story is told in the "voice" of her daughter, retelling Irini's story from a present day perspective. Irini lives with her alcoholic father (her mother is dead), who is a research chemist at the cereal company. Irini works in the Research Kitchen of the cereal company. The other characters are her co-workers (all women) in the Kitchen, as well as the company founder, his wife, and his grandson, and a few other local women.
The main action of the novel revolves somewhat loosely around a promotional scheme of the founder: the girls at the company form a baseball team, which barnstorms through Minnesota and Wisconsin, purportedly demonstrating the nutritive benefits of the company's cereal by their success. Several other narrative threads are woven into the story: the writing of a continuing promotional kitchen/life advice column by the fictional Maggie Collins, a sort of Betty Crocker-type spokesperson for the cereal company; the antagonism between the former residents of Upper Magrit (submerged to make the mill) and Lower Magrit (where everyone now lives); the involvement of the mill owner's wife with Gandhi and the Indian independence movement; the efforts of the local women to find love and husbands in a town left nearly male-free by the war; and a mysterious (young, male) visitor to Magrit.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Karen Joy Fowler doesn't smack the ball out of the park with The Sweetheart Season, but she does hit a triple, which in baseball is even more difficult! Hearkening to previous efforts from W.P. Kinsella or Garrison Keillor, Fowler paints a picture of life in the kitschy kitchens of WWII America while blending in a fair dose of the fairy tale. The descriptions of the changing roles of women, from hausfrau to Rosie the Riveter and back to the kitchens, were dead-on and disturbing. But it was the lyric storytelling, the portrayal of 'Maggie Collins' as the prototypic Betty Crocker that captured the attention and imagination. Read on a variety of levels, either for sheer enjoyment, or a discussion of women's roles, The Sweetheart Season satisfies.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 29, 1999
Format: Paperback
I truly enjoyed this book, and feel that it would have made it as an Oprah book club selection if only there were more suffering in it. It was well written, and the characters were engaging. Take it to the beach!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
A great summer book. The author does a great job capturing a time period that occurred 20 years before I was born. She throws in some interesting twists and I was pleasantly suprised by the subtle humor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Karen Joy Fowler's marvelous first novel, Sarah Canary, whetted my appetite for more, and this is a worthy successor. Set in Magrit, Minnesota, in 1947, it is the story of the young women of this town with almost no men. They work in the research kitchen of the town's breakfast cereal company, they play baseball for a barnstorming baseball team, they write kitchen/life advice for "housewifes", they search for love and/or husbands: all these elements, and Fowler's narrative voice, ironic, affectionate, and knowing, combine in an always entertaining story, full of truth about women's place in society, then and now
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Mcdonald on May 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I stumbled upon this book quite by accident, but I am glad I did. This was a genuinely sweet coming of age story set just after WWII. The plot centers around a cereal factory in a small Mid-Western town and the girls who work in the company's test kitchens. It reminds us of a simpler time when life moved a good bit slower. The characters are all very well developed and the descriptions are fantastic. This book is a nice way to pass a lazy afternoon.
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