I received a free copy for my honest review.
About the Book:
Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.
Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he’d fathered a son who is heading Tom’s way on a train. His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.
About the Author:
MARTHA WOODROOF was born in the South, went to boarding school and college in New England, ran away to Texas for a while, then fetched up in Virginia. She has written for NPR, npr.org, Marketplace and Weekend America, and for the Virginia Foundation for Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her print essays have appeared in such newspapers as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
Small Blessings is her debut novel. She lives with her husband in the Shenandoah Valley. Their closest neighbors are cows.
This book was a little different. Tom Putnam is married to Marjorie but she is mentally ill and her inability to deal with any of the simple basics of life. This has curtailed not only her life but Tom’s and her mother’s who also lives with them. Tom has remain devoted to his 20 year marriage except for one affair 10 years ago. They all live rather quiet, staid lives on the college campus where Tom teaches Shakespeare. Then in the course of a couple of days Marjorie goes out to a college party, a new woman comes to work in the college bookstore, Tom learns he has a son and he is on his way by train to come for a visit. Whew!
But through all of this Tom remains calm. Very, very calm. Nothing seems to phase him. I don’t want to spoil too many plot points but let me just write that through death, drunks, small boys and bouts of insanity Tom remains the same. Only once I believe does he show any passionate emotion and I really found this disconcerting considering all that goes on in his life. He just rolls along accepting all that happens no matter what.
Rose, the new woman that comes to the campus is a ray of light. EVERYONE loves her and she is like a fairy distributing sweetness and light. Like Tom she is very much a one note character. In fact most of the characters lack any real development even as some of them. The plot was a bit lacking for the most part and the sub plots did little to help move the story along.
I kept hoping for explanations for various actions but rather like Tom things just ambled along with no fuss and no bother.
You can purchase Small Blessings on Amazon.com