Reading this book was an accident; I didnt know it was part of the series: the Jazz Age. It was a book-on-tape that looked like a standalone novel. Generally, Im not interested in life between the wars. However, I was hooked by the plot before I recognized the time frame.
As she does so well, Dorothy Garlock takes us on a leisurely trip through a small town (Fertile, Missouri) with a group of distinctive characters. Garlock describes small time life with such accuracy!
I would refer to this as a cozy book; not a great deal action occurs, but the plot is furthered by the characters themselves. After her mother dies, Julie Jones (at 15) stops attending school to take care of her 5 younger siblings. As the story opens, she is now 21.
The interaction between the siblings is delightful funny, scathing, caring. Julie comes to the attention of the returning war veteran Evan Johnson, who is the only child of the mean drunk of Fertile. Evans father spends much of his time frightening folks (especially girls) with his lewd remarks and threats.
As Evans interest in Julie becomes more pronounced, Julie cant believe that a world-traveler like Evan could be interested in her. To add a fly in the ointment, Birdie Stuart (an attractive young widow with a small child) sets her cap for Evan. When Evan resists Birdies charm, she searches for another victim Julies widowed father.
This part of the story takes up much of the book; the children are not opposed to their father remarrying but they do NOT want Birdie. The strain between the 6 siblings vs. their father is hard to watch. The reader, like the kids, realizes there is something not quite right about Birdie. When Mr. Jones invites Birdie to come for an extended visit, tension in the family builds.
Finally, theres a rapist in town; hes been preying on the towns young women for years. Those are the three main issues that run through the book. However, there are plenty of sub-plots bootleg liquor and Sunday afternoon baseball games are two. I didnt figure out the rapist before the town learned his ID; the author didnt give clues.
Despite the plot described, this book moves at a very leisurely pace. Julie and Evan are pleasant and well-developed, but their situation isn't dramatic. I just happened to be in the right mood for a book of this type; others might find it too static for their tastes. 4 stars
this is the first of 4. It is a slow moving intriging storyline. I enjoyed the characters, the family interaction, and the love interest. Starting on #2.