Thursday, August 18, 2011

The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls Captures My Heart

It's been a good reading month. Actually, it's been a good reading summer. Although I have had a couple of not-so-hot, just-couldn't-finish books, overall I've found lots of winners. Among those winners have been a couple of books that captured my heart. I told you about one -- Summer Rental -- yesterday, and today I have another: Wendy Delsol's first adult fiction title, The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls.

Call me crazy, but there's just something about the title. Something that says, "This is going to be a good one." I'm also a sucker for (good) women's fiction. Not "chick lit," but true women's fiction. Books written by women with true-to-life female characters. Books that also manage to include a bit of women's history: where women have come from and the strides we've made. As the old (admittedly un-PC) Virginia Slims ad says: "You've come a long way, baby."

Delsol's The McCloud Home for Wayward Girls is both an entertaining novel in its own right and a commentary on the progress of the status of women in the United States over the last fifty years. Although the novel is set in present day, Delsol offers glimpses of the past through flashback scenes that show insight into the lives of women in the 1950s and 1960s.

The novel tells the story of the McCloud family, three generations of women living under the same roof. In its beginning, the family home was a commune of sorts. In the middle of the twentieth century, the home changed to a place for unwed mothers (thus the title of the book). The term "wayward" was eventually dropped, and by the 1970s there was little need for such places. By then, unwed mothers often had their babies at home and lived as single parents with less stigma attached. 

Ruby, the family matriarch, first came to the Home as an unwed mother herself. She later married the Home's owner and gave birth to two daughters. When the novel opens, their daughter Jill currently lives in the family home with her daughter Fee and runs a bed-and-breakfast out of the former Girls' Home. Three generations under one roof means an inordinate amount of drama entails. Add to the mix Jill's long-gone sister Jocelyn, returned for a funeral, and it's a real recipe for disaster. And an excellent premise for a good book.

Also returning to their small Iowa town is Jill's former flame, Keith. His family and the McClouds have a long history together, managing to remain entwined from generation to generation. All of the action takes place over the course of one week (save the flashback scenes), lending an urgency to all of the secret-telling and emotional discoveries.

Wendy Delsol is the author of the fantasy YA novel Stork and its sequel Frost, which will be released in October. You can visit her on the web, on her blog, and on Twitter.

1 comment:

  1. This book sounds wonderful. I am going to have to check it out!



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