December 20, 2011

A lovely place to visit

SmittenSmitten by Colleen Coble
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The town of Smitten, Vermont, is as much a character in this book as the four women who make up its core. This is not a novel, but a tetralogy of novellas, each with a different heroine. Disclosure: I was given an advance reader copy of this book at a conference.

The authors do a great job of intertwining their characters’ lives, and their voices are similar enough that the stories flow into one another without clashing. The overall story arc, of the character’s efforts to transform Smitten from mill town to vacation destination, runs as a thread through all four stories, binding them together. Together, the authors create an appealing place we would like to go visit.

The characters are well-rounded, and although some of them have superficial quirks, those add to, rather than substitute for, some very realistic, deep-rooted traits that make the characters believable.

The quality of the writing is very high, although there are a few continuity problems. A character suddenly has an object in her hands that we never saw her pick up -- where did that come from? One character is introduced as a good friend -- halfway through the book. Another, who appears early in a minor role, is described as one woman's "best friend." If he's her best friend, how come she doesn't talk to him until we're three-quarters of the way through the book?

But these are quibbles. Overall, this is a charming set of stories that make for a delightful getaway.

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