REVIEW: “The Book Charmer (Dove Pond #1)” by Karen Hawkins

“The Book Charmer (Dove Pond #1)” by Karen Hawkins

Paperback, 368 pages

Published July 30, 2019, by Gallery Books

My synopsis

” … just do yourself a favor; if Sarah Dove offers you a book, take it. You’ll regret it if you don’t.”

Dove Pond, N.C., is no ordinary small Southern town. Among other miracles, it’s home to Sarah Dove, a librarian who can communicate with the books she guards. The books tell her when specific residents need to read them. And lately they’ve been whispering that someone very special is moving to town. Enter Grace Wheeler. This city girl is coming to Dove Pond in hopes that the familiar surroundings will comfort her foster mother, who’s just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Also in tow is Grace’s niece Daisy, whose errant mother Hannah just passed away. Grace gets a job as city clerk, but doesn’t plan on staying in Dove Pond for more than a year. However, Sarah’s books have other ideas…

My review

I really enjoyed this heartwarming story of how three generations of strong women shake up a struggling small town. There’s an appealingly sweet element of romance as Grace gets to know her neighbor, an emotionally and physically battered Iraq War veteran named Trav. There’s humor, as Grace butts heads with residents who are too set in their ways to embrace any necessary changes to how their beloved Apple Festival is run. And of course, there’s magic in the way that books find themselves in the hands of the right people at the right times.

I could really relate to Grace as she struggled to care for her foster mom, who’s a native of Dove Pond. My grandma had vascular dementia, so I know how hard it is to watch as someone you love slips away little by little. The author mentions in her acknowledgments that she talked to caregivers, which made that aspect of the book more realistic.

At times the pace of the story was a bit slow, but otherwise I really enjoyed “The Book Charmer.” It’s a great read for anyone who believes in the transformative powers of love and literature.

Favorite quotes

“That porch has been crooked as long as I’ve been breathing, and it hasn’t fallen off the house yet. So long as you don’t load it up with a hundred or more fat people, it should stand for another hundred and fifty years.”

“Change never hurt nobody, child. You know that. It’s those who can’t or won’t change who lose.”

Sometimes the only way to begin a journey to the future was with a gentle shove from the past.

“… It hurts like the deepest cut to watch your parents fade away. One of my clients said it was like trying to hold sand in her fingers; no matter how tightly she gripped, she couldn’t hold it in place.”

Sarah’s sisters were all still alive and well, so she couldn’t understand how grief could sneak up on you, or what it felt like to go from being the oldest sister to not even being a sister at all. It was if a hole had been cut into every childhood memory Grace possessed.

“I just ordered takeout for dinner. That’s one of my biggest skills as a homemaker, ordering out. I’m damn good at it.”

“You don’t need scores of friends. You need only one … the right one.”

Love can’t cure a broken heart, but it can hold the two sides together while they heal.

About the author

Author bio and photo courtesy of Goodreads

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Hawkins writes novels that have been praised as touching, witty, charming, and heartwarming. A native Southerner who grew up in the mountains of East Tennessee where storytelling is a way of life, Karen recently moved to frosty New England with her beloved husband and multiple foster dogs. The Dove Pond books are a nod to the thousands of books that opened doors to more adventures, places, and discoveries than she ever imagined possible.

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