I am waaaay behind on reviews, so the next few are going to be short.
If you like books of interconnected stories about small towns, I have a five-star read for you: The Road To Dalton by Shannon Bowring, a character-driven debut novel about several people living in a small remote town in northern Maine. It’s an ordinary cast of characters – a doctor, his wife the librarian. a woman who works at a nursing home, a police officer and his wife and newborn, a teenager. Yet they each have deep interior lives of conflict and dreams, disappointments and hopes, which Bowring expertly weaves into a seamless narrative.
Why I picked it up: It was recommended by my reading twin, Susie of Novel Visits.
I love quiet, understated stories about lives in small towns. (Similar reads: Plainsong by Kent Haruf, A Little Hope by Ethan Joella; A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson). I got totally immersed in these characters’ lives, from the two married female friends who are secretly in love with each other and the police officer who doesn’t notice his wife’s post-partum depression, to the young mother abused by her drug-dealing husband. There isn’t a lot of plot here; each chapter delves into a different character’s life while managing to work in other people in the town and connecting them all. Bowring’s writing is quiet, insightful and understated, yet she masterfully builds suspense and has you turning pages quickly to find out what will happen next to these decent people. At times it’s melancholy and lonely, but there are glimmers of happiness and contentment throughout as well. (Isn’t that what real life is like?)
This is exactly my kind of book and I am so glad I read it. My 5th five-star book of the year!
The Road To Dalton was the 45th book of 2023.