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March 9, 2020

Don't Put the Boats Away by Ames Sheldon ~ Review

by Susan Roberts

"Eddie's death nearly killed me.  It wasn't until I started wondering what I could do with my experience of suffering that I started to find my way.  Helping others deal with their own grief is where I found the meaning for my life." (p 191)

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

August 2019; She Writes Press; 978-1631526022
ebook, print (292 pages); historical fiction
It's 1945 and the Sutton family has lost their oldest son in WWII.  The parents and the remaining two children have to learn to live life with the knowledge that he won't be coming home.  George, the father, hides his feelings by becoming more involved in his work and in his stern way of planning his remaining two children's futures.  Eleanor, the mom,  drowns her sorrow in alcohol.  Harriet wants to become a chemist in a time that women didn't have careers and Nat wants to become a jazz musician, much to his father's disapproval.  The book takes place in the 25 years after the end of WWII as they learn to adapt to all of the changes in society during this time period.

Harriet wants to go to college and become a chemist so that she can work with her father at his chemical company.   Her father is completely opposed to her plan because women don't get educations.  She is met with discrimination at the college and at her job.  This is a reflection of the times when women's main reason for going to college was to find a husband and become a wife and mother.  Nat wants to make a living with music in a time that men were supposed to get jobs and work for a living.  The lives of both of their characters change significantly over the 25-year span of the book.

Sheldon did considerable research to follow this family through a tumultuous time in US history.  Her research and tying it in with the music of the times make this story even more enjoyable and helps to make the family more real to the reader.  The characters are very complex - especially Harriet and Nat and the depth of the writing makes the changes in their lives more understandable.  This is a novel about love and family, change and personal growth and forgiveness.  It's a book that you don't want to miss.

Buy Don't Put the Boats Away at Amazon

About Ames Sheldon

Ames Sheldon worked as a reporter for two small-town newspapers before in southern Minnesota before becoming lead author and associate editor of Women’s History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscript Collections in the United States, a monumental reference book which ignited her passion for studying and writing about the history of women in America. After that, she worked as a development officer, raising funds for the Sierra Club in San Francisco, the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, the Minneapolis Public Library, and other nonprofits. Her first novel Eleanor’s Wars won the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award for Best New Voice: Fiction in 2016.

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. love that cover. i actually took a photo that's close to it
    sherry @ fundinmental