STILTSVILLE by Susanna Daniel

Stiltsville The December EDIWTB book club pick was Stiltsville, by Susanna Daniel.

Stiltsville is the chronicle of a marriage – that of Frances and Dennis, a couple who meets in their mid-20s in Miami. Frances is visiting Miami for the weekend, while Dennis is a Floridian with a house in Stiltsville, a community of houses on stilts in Biscayne Bay, outside Miami. Dennis and Frances end up marrying and making a life for themselves in Miami.  Stiltsville isn't an exhaustive diary of their marriage, but is more a series of vignettes and episodes. Frances and Dennis together face a number of challenges – Dennis' professional dissatisfaction, boom and bust times, a hurricane that destroys their stilt house, their daughter's surprise engagement.

Frances is a quiet person - a devoted wife, mother, and friend, but not particularly emotive. I liked her understatement and the slow teasing out of her inner narrative. I didn't mind the lack of a strong plot or the uneven passage of time. Reading Stiltsville is like looking through someone's photo album (back in the day before we chronicled every day on digital cameras) and hearing the backstory behind the pages.

Daniel also made me understand the appeal of Miami. She beautifully conveyed the heat, the lushness, and the dramatic storms that are so characteristic of that city, and the role that Miami played in Frances' life.

Overall, I quite enjoyed this book. It fit the bill for me – introspective domestic fiction with an interesting setting. I've read a lot of very positive reviews, as well as some that felt that the book was too slow or dull. I didn't find it slow or dull – to me it was a very satisfying read.

Thank you very much to Harper for providing books for EDIWTB readers! And now, let's hear from those readers… What did you think of Stiltsville?

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