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The Magic of Ordinary Days Paperback – June 25, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 256 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This is the first adult novel by an author who has written two well-received YA books. Livvy Dunne is a thoughtful 24-year-old with yearnings toward archeology, who in a rash moment in WWII Colorado becomes pregnant by a dashing officer and is forced into a marriage of convenience by her sternly puritanical minister father. She goes off to Ray Singleton's remote farm knowing nothing about him except that he is lonely, utterly inexperienced around women and touchingly devoted to her. The relationship between the two, graced by some delicate, perceptive and fine-boned writing, is at the heart of the book, and Creel gets it all just right. She is also skilled at evoking the peculiar remoteness from the war of the high plains country, where farmers were regarded as an integral part of the war effort and even got enough gas to drive around for pleasure, a rare privilege in 1944. Lonesome Livvy yearns for more communicative companionship, however, and grows close to a pair of charming Nisei sisters at an internment camp and this is where plot devices begin to play an unwarranted role. For Rose and Lorelei, it turns out, will do anything for love and involve Livvy in what develops into a dangerous (and inherently improbable) exercise in deceit and manipulation. The book recovers its stride for a poignant if rather hasty finish, but the calm spell cast by the tale of Livvy and Ray, which would have been perfectly satisfactory to maintain the book, has been broken.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


"...a gentle but powerful novel, combining a story of bittersweet love with a poignant account of the journey toward self-realization..." -- Book Page, July 2001

"...blends historical richness and a fine sense of place...a satisfying emotional depth...a light, precisely written novel." -- Kirkus May 15, 2001

"The Magic of Ordinary Days" is a simple tale, well-told, featuring some lively and believable characters and gorgeous, stark landscapes. -- Boulder Daily Camera, July 22, 2001

"This is the ideal book to read while sipping lemonade on the porch swing this summer." -- The Gazette, August 5, 2001 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142000906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142000908
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (256 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #956,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
At first glance THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS is a love story. Of the surface it relates the story of Livvy, who is pregnant and forced to marry a man that she does not know. The story focuses on the evolution of their relationship and the changes in Livvy's life. Her husband Ray, has the very appropriate last name of Singleton, because he is indeed a single, solitary man.

But on a broader scale, there are a number of underlying themes that the reader should be aware of. The first is the responsibility that people must take for their own acts and how what seem to be casual decisions about relationships can alter a person's life.

Issues of family relationships are also brought out in the book. Most people will identify in some way with the relationships between the siblings. Women will contemplate what they would have done had they been Livvy - pregnant and without a husband in the early 1940's - and how their own father would have reacted. The underlying issues of religion and a small community vs a large city are also present.

Author Ann Howard Creel masterfully deals with a subject that is popular among historians and this is women on the home front during the time of war. She also deals with men, such as Ray who does not go to war but still deals with issues of guilt.

Creel's handling of the issues of Japanese interment is excellent. It is a subject that many readers, espcially young readers will know little about. So her even handed descriptions are informative. In addition, most Americans have little knowledge of the German and Italian POW's that came to America.

The Hallmark Hall of Fame did a wonderful job with this novel, following almost exactly as Creel wrote it, although the did not use the first person.
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Format: Hardcover
I originally purchased this book as a present for my wife; she couldn't stop talking about it so I read it for myself. Set in rural Colorado in 1944, the main story revolves around an educated, progressive woman forced into an arranged marriage to a farmer due to the result of a fling with a soldier leaving for the war in 1944. As the main character, Livvy, tries to cope with the disappointment and loneliness of her situation, a great love story unfolds as she begins to really know the man she married. This was my wife's favorite portion of the book, and I have to admit it was done extremely well. The spice in the story comes in a sub- plot which has Livvy befriend girls in a Japanese- American interment camp who become involved with German POWs assigned to work on the local farms. What I belived to be a great piece of fiction turned out to be based on actual events as recorded in the Denver Post in 1944. Livvy must make some difficult decisions and the result is my favorite part of the book. Well written and paced just right, the novel is balanced, informative and thought provoking. A great read.
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Format: Hardcover
The book opens with Olivia Dunne, a twenty- four year old with big dreams, being forced into an arranged marriage after succumbing to the advances of a handsome solder in 1944. It turns out her husband is a good man, but Olivia has nothing in common with the farmers that now surround her, and she befriends two girls, Japanese- Americans who were interned in a camp nearby. Their story culminates in a politically charged incident, based on actual events, involving the girls and German POWs from another camp. Olivia eventually begins to love her new home and even her husband, as she learns to make the best of what life has given her. Through Livvy's eyes, we feel the camp and the isolation of rural life only to discover an unexpected enchantment. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the sweet, often heart- wrenching dialogue between Livvy and Ray, and the vivid description of life on a farm in Colorado in 1944. As I read I felt I was there; the author creates a strong sense of "place." The incident between the Japanese- American girls and the German POW's is a bonus and made me turn the pages even faster. From a historical perspective, I learned of Japanese internment camps and German prisoner of war camps in Colorado and the impact they had on the people there.
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Format: Hardcover
Ann Creel's The Magic of Ordinary Days illuminates the impact of World War II on those left behind to sacrifice, monitor its blows, and help pick up the pieces through the story of a minister's daughter forced to face herself in unimagined ways.
Romance is the farthest thing from Olivia (Livvy) Dunne's mind when she trades her urban, educated, albeit sheltered existence for an arranged marraige to a simple farmer in rural Colorado. A proud woman who feels her shame and loss all too acutely, she hides behind layers of reserve, convinced she can and should insulate herself from her husband as she waits out the period of her perceived exile, ever focused on eventual autonomy. Ironically, she ultimately finds the freedom she craves in her spouse's patient, unassuming, accommodating eyes.
In spare, lyrical prose whose cadences echo the ebb and flow of life in the High Plains, Creel describes Livvy's "ordinary days" as she resists the seduction of the seasons and bucolic ways, only to find herself enchanted with their singular logic and beauty. Like the two, young, interned Japanese-American women she befriends, Livvy can barely endure the injustice of being banished for who she is. But, like the butterflies her friends so revere, she achieves transformation through a natural life cycle and, with it, unexpected, enduring love.
The Magic of Oridnary Days is a deeply satisfying book that will resound wihin the reader's psyche long after the last page is savored. I highly recommend Ann Creel's debut, adult novel.
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