Monday, January 21, 2019

Lily of the Valley by Suzanne Strempek Shea

I haven't had the opportunity to post here very much lately. I've been busy with writing and editing projects (which is a good thing). I've still been reading quite a bit, but much of what I read is for reviews for other publications (which means that I'm not allowed to share them here.)

But, I still try to do some leisure reading on Sundays. The past couple weekends, I reread Lily of the Valley by Suzanne Strempek Shea. I enjoy Shea's early work. She is from the same general area (The Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts) that I live in and it is fun to read about places that I recognize. Her early novels were from the 1990s and feature Polish Catholics. They capture a particular time and place so well, freezing those moments, that they now read like historical fiction, albeit of a not-too-distant past.

Lily of the Valley tells of Lily Wilk, an artist who makes her living painting whatever anyone commissions her to do: fire hydrants, store signs, bathroom doors, etc. But when local supermarket mogul Mary Ziemba hires her to paint a family portrait, she thinks her ship has finally come in. While things don't turn out quite as she hoped, she learns a great deal in the process about what truly makes a family.

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