Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The narrator is top high school student Margaret Birch, who lives with her mother Sophia and grandmother Charlie Kate in a small town in North Carolina in 1940. Charlie Kate is the well-read town medic with no formal training but a whole lot of experience who upstages the doctors from time to time. Margaret can't be persuaded to choose a college, because she loves assisting her grandmother on house calls too much to leave home. Charlie Kate is Margaret's main adviser and confidante. Sophia is a good mother, but she lacks Charlie Kate's wisdom when it comes to unconventional Margaret, who shows no interest in boys, clothes, or cosmetics. Both Sophia and Charlie Kate made bad choices in husbands who strayed and are now out of the picture. Margaret constantly laments that she wasn't sired by the doctor who Charlie Kate chose as a suitable mate for Sophia but whom both parties rejected. My favorite section of the book is where Margaret is volunteering at a hospital and takes on the task of reading and writing letters for wounded soldiers. Appalled at what they dictate, as well as a screwy Dear John letter that one receives, she and her grandmother fabricate their own letters to send home for these men, with mixed results. These three strong, smart women make this book an uplifting delight from beginning to end.

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