In this sequel to Amy Hill Hearth’s “funny and charming” (Publishers Weekly) debut novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society, the eponymous book club reunites one year later, in the late summer of 1964. Their mission: to fight a large development along the tidal river where member Robbie-Lee grew up and where his mother, Dolores Simpson, a former stripper turned alligator hunter, still lives in a fishing shack. The developer is Darryl Norwood, ex-husband of narrator Dora Witherspoon, who returns to Collier County to assist in the battle. An old land deed, the discovery that one of the key characters has been using a false name, and a dramatic court hearing are just a few of the highlights. Not to mention the reappearance of the Ghost of Seminole Joe. Just as Hearth’s debut explored the ways we can find a sense of belonging in other people, her latest novel shows how closely tied each of us is to our sense of home—and the conflicts that can arise when our idea of that home becomes threatened. For Darryl, the river is a place ripe for development. For Dora, who’s known as the Turtle Lady because she rescues Everglades “snappers,” it’s a place that belongs to the critters. And for Dolores, former stripper, it’s a place to hide from the world…
Sissy: There are so many things I could say that I don’t know what to say first! First of all the title is too long so I’ll just refer to it as “The Lost Heiress”. Anyway, the aforementioned book is so full of character that when I think of other novels I have reviewed saying that they had lots of character and charm, well they just pale in comparison. I was truly transported to steamy Collier County Florida in the 1960’s and felt embraced by the small town warmth. Each member of the Collier County Women’s Literary Society became real to me. Never mind that the story was so entertaining and surprising – it made me so interested in the culture and racial background of that period that I had to go do independent research on the Black and Native American populations of the time. The whole experience went beyond the regular satisfaction of a good novel and into lasting and memorable.
Bubby: Wow. That was beautiful, Sissy. My heartstrings are just a thrummin’ now.
Sissy: Listen, your rudeness. Sometimes the rhapsodic prose does not trip off my tongue. Maybe I should just say ” Da book wuz great. I luved da book.”
Bubby: I’d actually like you to stop saying ANYTHING at this point so that I can get a word in edgewise! I was not trying to be rude, my darling sister. I was actually trying to compliment you on expressing my feelings as well as yours for The Lost Heiress. I’ve seen lots of reviewers compare it to Fanny Flag’s novels, especially Fried Green Tomatoes, and while the small town feeling is similar, I must say that I much prefer Amy Hill Hearth’s writing. I was more engaged in the story and felt closer to the characters than I have in a long time. I loved the fact that there was a main storyline (cheating Darryl and his unwanted urban development) entwined with several compelling side stories (Dora’s birth and adopted mothers, Seminole Joe, and Priscilla’s baby to name a few). I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!
Sissy: While I cannot abide your dissing of Fanny Flag, I will say that Amy Hill Hearth writes just as well. For example, when I realized that one of the main characters was a stripper turned alligator hunter, I was hooked. I just had to know more about Dolores Simpson. Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County (there! I wrote out the whole long thing) is chock-full of similar fascinating personalities, like a good Southern seafood gumbo is chock-full of shrimp.
Bubby: I’ve never eaten gumbo, seafood or otherwise, but I’ll agree with Sissy’s analogy. There’s just so much good stuff packed into this novel. I want to go back and read the first one and see what I missed! I just fell in love with the ladies (and a gent or two) of Collier County. Well done, Amy Hill Hearth. Well done!
Click HERE to buy Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County by Amy Hill Hearth
We received a copy of this title from Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review