Amy Hill Hearth (Having our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years) takes the reader back to 1962, when Naples, Florida was a "sunbaked southern backwater town" and not what it is today, one of "the richest, swankiest places on earth." The book is told from the perspective of 80 year-old, divorced Dora Witherspoon, who recollects a time when she was a postal worker and was caught, on the job, violating postal regulations by perusing the latest issue of Vogue addressed to a glamorous newcomer in town, a transplant from Boston, Massachusetts , Jackie Hart. When Jackie catches Dora in the act and asks, "What else do you like to read?" the encounter sparks the formation of the Collier County Women's Literary Society, a group that draws an array of local misfits who gather to read and discuss great books - and inadvertently reveal mysteries and secrets about their own lives.
The society grows to include the local librarian; the town's one and only Sears employee; a woman who once did prison time for allegedly killing her husband; a middle-aged poet; a token male member; and a young "colored" girl, a maid, who is secretly whisked to the meetings in the racially segregated town.
In the midst of it all, the KKK is hard at work and Collier County becomes rapt by an anonymous radio show anchored by Miss Dreamsville, whose mysterious identity spices up life in the small town. Inspired by true events, Amy Hill Hearth has written a heart-tugging story about how this band of colorful characters finds liberation--and friendship--amid a time and place where "sameness" was once revered.
Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women's Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
Atria Books, $15, Trade paper, 9781451675238, 272 pp
Publication Date: October 2, 2012