Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Famous in a Small Town by Viola Shipman
on June 13, 2023
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Amazon, Audible, Libro.fm, Barnes & Noble, Apple
For most of her eighty years, Mary Jackson has endured the steady invasion of tourists, influencers and real estate developers who have discovered the lakeside charm of Good Hart, Michigan, waiting patiently for the arrival of a stranger she’s believed since childhood would one day carry on her legacy—the Very Cherry General Store. Like generations of Jackson women before her, Cherry Mary, as she’s known locally, runs the community hub—part post office, bakery and sandwich shop—and had almost given up hope that the mysterious prediction she’d been told as a girl would come true and the store would have to pass to…a man.
Becky Thatcher came to Good Hart with her ride-or-die BFF to forget that she’s just turned forty with nothing to show for it. Ending up at the general store with Mary is admittedly not the beach vacation she expected, but the more the feisty octogenarian talks about destiny, the stronger Becky’s memories of her own childhood holidays become, and the strange visions over the lake she was never sure were real. As she works under Mary’s wing for the summer and finds she fits into this quirky community of locals, she starts to believe that destiny could be real, and that it might have something very special in mind for Becky…
Having read a couple winter samples of this author’s amazing ability to make one love a season and a place as well as care about his characters, I was glad to dive into Famous in a Small Town set in the summer and once again showing small town Michigan at its best.
Famous in a Small Town introduces two main protagonists. One, a forty-year old St. Louis school administrator whose boyfriend of decades makes it clear he’s self-centered and likes the status quo, while she was hoping for something deeper and meaningful. Time to take a road trip with her ‘ride or die’ bestie and they land in the northwest region of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula in a small town for the summer, in time for all things cherry including an old general store. Our other heroine is an eighty year old woman, running the small town store alone, but ready to find the exact person she dreamed of as a child who will take over the Jackson women’s legacy- the historical Very Cherry family store.
At first, Becky isn’t sure what to make of Mary and the rest of the inhabitants of Good Hart, Michigan. She just wanted to regroup and figure her life out somewhere different, but she finds herself settling in and getting cozy. Mary is a lonely old woman whose son lives away and she has no one who can help during the tourist season. She sees in Becky her dream coming true, as wacky as it seems. Her claim to fame was spitting a cherry the furthest decades before. But, slowly these women and Becky’s bud Q find something special in Good Hart and each other. And, of course, the cherry on top is the smidge of romance, too.
Feel good and nostalgia, Michigan summer, cherries, small town, a little magic and Viola Shipman has done it again. I miss a place I’ve never been (though I know the region well and can vouch for all the cherry fun) and want to know the people and town of Good Hart. This story doesn’t get dramatic or intense, but shows the connections of friendship and Becky’s journey to self which includes old Mary. This is perfect for a lazy summer afternoon read at the beach, at the lake, or in the favorite comfy reading chair.
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