As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

June 16, 2013


Welcome to El Dorado Springs, Missouri, population 3,021. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it doesn't take long any time at all, really to realize there's much more than meets the eye. That's how Molly McCarty feels, anyway. After deciding she's had enough of the big-city life as a politician's wife in Washington, Molly moves back to her hometown and buys the abandoned Serenity Farm. (Amazon)

Reviewed by Kim Harris Thacker: mommy, writer, and Bookshop Talk host

Molly McCarty has been away from her hometown of El Dorado Springs, Missouri for years, but two things about it haven’t changed:  Everyone in El Dorado knows everyone else’s business, and business is...quirky.  Molly’s old friend, Jerry Ray Turner, is now a cross-dresser—though he’s still the best mechanic in town, even done up in rhinestones and heels. Winthrop Worthington, the town’s (married) playboy is still making eyes at anything in a skirt (except for Jerry), and Ollie Griffin is bathing in the fountain in the park, since there’s no shower inside the 1969 Thunderbird in which he has lived since returning home from Vietnam. Still, not much can surprise Molly—unless it’s the facts that Roy Bob Benson is trying to open a strip club in the old jewelry building, and the ghost of the teenaged girl who died at Serenity Farm (which Molly and her husband just bought) is still hanging around to do chores.

Though the cast of characters in Kathie Truitt’s second novel is a large one, each character is fully realized and utterly believable.  As a native of a small town, I particularly appreciated the manner in which Truitt depicts the loyalty the townspeople feel toward each other, even though they don’t always see eye-to-eye.  I also sympathized with the characters who feel as if they are constantly being scrutinized.  The problems in this small town are small problems, for the most part, but because people are so connected to each other in El Dorado, everyone feels the weight of everyone else’s burdens—a beautiful idea and one that is true to country living, in my experience.

Characters are certainly the focus of this novel, and one character really stood out to me.  Oddly enough, this character is not the main character of Molly McCarty, but the narrator, whose identity is not revealed until the end of the book (a delightful, reader-hooking tactic!).  I also appreciated the solid plot, which moves along at a pace appropriate to a character-driven novel.

Readers who enjoy classic small town novels such as Jan Karon’s “Mitford” books and Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows’ THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY will surely adore Kathie Truitt’s THE HILLBILLY DEBUTANTE CAFÉ, which, while being a little sassier than the aforementioned books, is quite as charming and heartwarming. 

Market: Adult Fiction
Violence: a couple of almost-fist-fights, threats of violence, and the killing of a cat by a human
Language: mild (I can't recall any, but there may have been a couple of "d-words" and the use of the name of deity in vain.)
Sensuality: One of the characters is a notorious playboy, so there are a few very mild references to his infidelity and the marriages he has broken up (he's married, too).
Adult themes: PTSD (one of the characters is a Vietnam veteran), infidelity in marriage, death of loved ones, financial struggles, and discrimination

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