Willoughby-Burle’s lyrical writing propels the novel, its depictions of rural Kentucky’s idyllic beauty haunted by the poverty of the Great Depression. As Mattie’s character gradually develops, Willoughby-Burle focuses on the contrast between her life in North Carolina and in Certain, skillfully capturing Mattie’s charitable nature and genuine quest to help those less fortunate. When Mattie learns the real reason for Daniel’s behavior, she’s able to see the man underneath the gruff appearance and discovers his immense capacity for caring for others, sparking her determination to convince Daniel he must accept his past difficulties and take a chance at reestablishing his fractured relationships with town residents.
Mattie and Daniel’s romance develops simultaneously alongside the mystery behind Daniel’s fall from grace and self-imposed exile from Certain. As Willoughby-Burle reveals the backstory behind the death of Daniel’s wife and why the church—often the center of small southern towns in the Depression era—became a library, she illuminates the contentious relationships and misunderstandings between the town residents, and readers will be drawn to the connection between Mattie’s arrival as a well-to-do outsider and the community’s struggle to heal old wounds. Through it all, Willoughby-Burle never loses focus on Mattie’s generous spirit and the satisfaction she gains through her work.
Takeaway: A young woman volunteering as a librarian inDepression-era Kentucky finds unexpected love.
Great for fans of: Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds, Mary Monroe’s Empty Vows
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A