Growing up, I was a bookworm. I carried a book with me wherever I went and would often get in trouble at school for reading when I was supposed to be doing school work. My favorite reads were vintage books from the forties through sixties, preferably those with ensemble casts of quirky characters. I read hundreds of books a year, so after a while, they mostly blended in except for a few treasured tomes that stuck with me. One of those was The Pink Hotel.
It’s been many years since I read The Pink Hotel, but I’ve never forgotten the feeling I had reading it. This week I had the pleasure of enjoying another book just as delightful. Like The Pink Hotel, Almost Home by Valerie Fraser Luesse. is an ensemble cast of quirky characters. It’s also set in the south, and includes a touch of mystery, but unlike The Pink Hotel which was a children’s book, Almost Home is a women’s literary book that incorporates faith and romance within the storylines.
Almost Home is a story of a grand but fading family home turned boarding house in Blackberry Springs, Alabama in 1944. An eclectic mix of young and old, men and women, collectively experience the struggles of life during World War II. Together, they help each other deal with their hurts and assist in their healing. What they lack in finances, they make up for in ingenuity.
I started reading Almost Home last night, and it was all I could do to put it down long enough to sleep and get other things done today. From the opening sentences, I was enthralled.
Valerie Fraser Luesse writes in a conversational style that perfectly captures small town Southern living. As a Southerner myself, I knew without looking at the back of the book that Mrs. Luesse lives in Alabama. She writes from experience, and it shows. She zooms in on one neighborhood in rural Alabama and captures it perfectly – the language, the dress, the furnishings, the way of life. Even though there are six main characters, I never had trouble keeping up with who was who as each character is so vividly brought to life.
Valerie Fraser Luesse creates a world so real, you’ll swear you’ve been there before. She paints such a clear picture that you’ll want to plan a day trip to visit Blackberry Springs, look for the old homestead, and maybe go swimming in the lake while you’re there. She makes you want to look up Dolly and Daisy and Anna and see if they’re on Facebook so you can connect with them. Of course, much time has passed since they all lived in the Chandler house, so we’ll have to content ourselves to just hoping that Mrs. Luesse writes a sequel to Almost Home so we can spend more time with these delightful characters in a future book.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed are my own.