Title: Small Blessings
Author: Martha Woodruff
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: August 12, 2014
Number of Pages: 320
How I Got It: St. Martin's PR
Tom Putnam, an English professor at a Virginia women's college, has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. For more than ten years, his wife Marjory has been a shut-in, a fragile and frigid woman whose neuroses have left her fully dependent on Tom and his formidable mother-in-law, Agnes Tattle. Tom considers his unhappy state self-inflicted, since Marjory's condition was exacerbated by her discovery of Tom's brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess. But when Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the campus bookstore's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to dinner, her first social interaction in a decade, Tom wonders if it's a sign that change is on the horizon. And when Tom returns home that evening to a letter from the poetess telling him that he'd fathered her son, Henry, and that Henry, now ten, will arrive by train in a few days, it's clear change is coming whether Tom's ready or not.
I always think it is strange when Virginia is referred to as the South but this novel is charmingly Southern without being stereotypical. Tom Putnam is a perfectly lovable character. He's accepted that his life will be small. His wife is a recluse and his social circle consists of a few other college professors and his live-in mother-in-law, Agnes. Agnes tends to side with Tom so at least he doesn't have an overbearing woman, who is not his wife, telling him what to do. I was hopeful for Tom and the new bookstore manager, Rose, to strike up something more than a friendship, even knowing he was a married man. But then Tom's world turns on its head and things take a different direction. A boy is arriving on the train who is supposedly Tom's son, but the circumstances are strange to say the least.
I was really trying to figure out who was going to ally with who during each of the mini crises that arose and I didn't anticipate the story's climax when I started reading. I am always a sucker for a collegiate or a bookstore setting and I loved that this book offered both. I read this in a hardback and I'm really excited to pass it along to a friend.
** I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review **