• Paperback: 318 pages
• Publisher: All Things That Matter Press; First edition (August 21, 2014)
Mid-life mom, Colleen Gallagher, would do anything to protect her children from harm. When her daughter’s husband falls ill with ALS, Colleen rolls up her sleeves and moves in, juggling the multiple roles of grandma, cook, and caregiver, only to discover that even her superhuman efforts can’t fix what’s wrong.
Buy, read, and discuss Montpelier Tomorrow
A former carpenter and mother of five, Marylee MacDonald began writing when her last child left for college. Her fiction has won the Jeanne Leiby Chapbook Award, the Barry Hannah Prize, the Ron Rash Award, the Matt Clark Prize, and the ALR Fiction Award. Her novel, Montpelier Tomorrow, was a Finalist in the 2014 IPPY Awards and the Faulkner-Wisdom Prize. She is widely published in literary magazines such as American Literary Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Folio, Blue Moon Literary & Art Review, Broad River Review, Four Quarters, New Delta Review, North Atlantic Review, Raven Chronicles, Reunion: The Dallas Review, River Oak Review, Ruminate, StoryQuarterly, The Briar Cliff Review, and Yalobusha Review.
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I knew going in that this would not be the happiest of novels, since the description tells you that one of the characters is diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) right off the bat. (No pun intended.) What surprised me was that Colleen was such a three dimensional character – from the young widow left with three young children and no income, to the capable, take-charge grandmother, she’s just the kind of person you’d want to have around during a crisis, balancing the need to nurture with the equally vital need to get things done.
What surprised me is that many of the other characters are less likeable. Sandy (Colleen’s daughter) has a relationship with her mother that is prickly at best, and although I suspect she knows that her mother means well their scenes together often hold a note of antagonism. Tony, the son-in law (Sandy’s husband) means well, but he’s just been diagnosed with a disease people don’t typically get until 20 or 30 years later in their lives and a lot of his early behavior wavers between resentment and overcompensation. Then, too, his parents seem oblivious to the reality of having a (grown) son with special needs, and I found their behavior really annoying.
Which is not to say that this is a bad novel.
It’s actually a really gripping story, and while I can’t honestly use the word ‘enjoyed’ given the subject (including an unexpected death deep inside the story). The characters are well drawn, and probably fairly accurately depict what real people would be going through under similar circumstances. As well, the plot is well crafted, and the writing is clean and accessible. It a fast read, if not always an easy one, but well worth whatever time you spend on it.
Colleen, especially shines in this novel, as the perfect contemporary heroine: an everyday soldier in the battle for a good life.
Goes well with, comfort foods like tuna casserole, and homemade iced tea.
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Monday, September 21st: Good Girl Gone Redneck
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