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July 25, 2020

2 Novellas to Read

by Susan Roberts

A novella is a work of narrative prose fiction, longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. Publishers and literary award societies typically consider a novella's word count to be between 15,000 and 40,000 words, although definitions vary. It is long enough for a reader to inhabit a world or a consciousness and be kept there, short enough to be read in a sitting or two and for the whole structure to be held in mind at first encounter.  (Wikipedia)
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Blue Marlin by Lee Smith

Blue Marlin
April 2020; Blair; 978-1949467314
ebook, print (136 pages); southern fiction
"In 1958, when my father had his famous affair with Carroll Byrd, I knew it before anybody... Before, I'd just been any 13 year old girl on a bike.  Now I was a girl whose father was having an affair - a tragic girl, a dramatic girl.  A girl with a burning secret.  Everything was different."
(p 1)

Lee Smith is a North Carolina treasure who has been writing Southern Fiction for over 30 years.  In her new novella, she takes her readers to Key West and her descriptive writing made me feel like I was there.  The main character is 13 years old and most of the story is told through her dialogue which is sometimes funny, sometimes sad but always spot on.

The story starts in 1958 - the summer that Jenny turns 13.  She likes to spy on people and when she finds out interesting tidbits, she writes them in her Davy Crockett spiral notebook.  "I would use this stuff later in my novels."  Her mother is a beautiful woman who loves to read about movie stars and knows all about their lives.  Her father is a lawyer and a respected man in town so when Jenny finds out that he is having an affair (she found out by spying on Carroll Byrd who was very different than the rest of the women in town), she knows that she can't tell her mother so doesn't know what to do.  Her mother, of course, finds out and the family goes on a trip to Key West to try to resolve their problems.  When they check into their hotel in Key West (Blue Marlin) they find out that many movie stars are staying there as they film Operation Petticoat.
Jenny is able to meander all over Key West and makes some interesting friends along the way.  The book is full of humor but also sadness as Jenny tries to help her parents reconcile.  Seeing the world, no matter how ugly it can be, through Jenny's eyes is a real treat and makes this book well worth reading.

Buy Blue Marlin at Amazon

Love at Sea: A Love Lost and Found Romance by Jeanne Felfe

Love at Sea
January 2020; Parallel Pathways
ebook (27 pages); romance
"Until now, Tom Giacano had never gone anywhere.  Never done anything. It wasn't that he lacked the means to do so, he just never had,  preferring instead to remain ensconced in his stable, predictable life.
Until it wasn't.
Nor stable."

I don't read many short stories or novellas but this one looked interesting because the characters were over 50, so I thought I would give it a try and I'm glad that I did.  It was a nice escape from life during the current shelter in place ruling.
Tom thinks that he has a good marriage until, a week after his wife's 55th birthday party, he came home from work to find a letter from Anne, telling him that she had left to find herself and that she no longer loved him. After the shock, he started thinking about his life and that he had never accomplished the dreams that he had for his life. So he decides to retire from his job and learn to sail - something that he had put on the back burner once he got married. First, he learns to sail on inland lakes and then he signs up for a sailing adventure in Australia. When he gets on the tall ship the first day and meets the rest of the group he'll be with, he begins to worry because he is the oldest person in the group and is nervous that he may not be able to perform his duties. After several days of being seasick, he is really wondering why he decided to take this trip. When he gets better, he realizes what a wonderful adventure he is on. Plus he is interested in getting to know Suzette, one of the other tour members who is his age.

This is a great book with a little adventure and a little romance in beautiful Australia. I enjoyed seeing Tom completely change his outlook on life and realize that there are a lot of new things to learn to help him follow his dreams.

Buy Love at Sea at Amazon

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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