Friday, October 7, 2022

Literary Friday: Other Birds

 


Same book, different covers.  The one on the right is the special Barnes and Noble edition.


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing with you our September Book Club selection: Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen.

Full disclosure:  Sarah Addison Allen is one of my all-time favorite writers.  I've read all of her books, and I've never been disappointed by her delightful stories infused with magical realism.  According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the magical realism genre is "chiefly a literary style or genre originating in Latin America that combines fantastic or dreamlike elements with realism."



Mustang Sally in the library sharing our book club selection for September


About the Book According to Goodreads:

304 pages, Hardcover

First published August 30, 2022, by St. Martin's Press


An enchanting tale filled with magical realism and moments of pure love that won’t let you go.

Between the real and the imaginary, there are stories that take flight in the most extraordinary ways.

Right off the coast of South Carolina, on Mallow Island, The Dellawisp sits—a stunning old cobblestone building shaped like a horseshoe, and named after the tiny turquoise birds who, alongside its human tenants, inhabit an air of magical secrecy.

When Zoey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment at the Dellawisp she meets her quirky and secretive neighbors, including a young woman with a past, two estranged middle-aged sisters, and a lonely chef, and three ghosts. The sudden death of one of Zoey's new neighbors sets off a search that leads to the island's famous author and to a long-estranged relative of the sisters.

Each of them has a story, and each story has an ending which hasn't yet been written.







My Review:

We had so much fun discussing this charming and uplifting story.  Although there are several poignant elements to the plot, overall the story inspires and even made me sigh a time or two.  The setting is fanciful: an island where marshamallows and candies were once manufactured, and the town's storefronts and other buildings reflect its delightful heritage in both whimsy and colors.  Mallow Island was made famous by a Mid-Century novel set there entitled Sweet Mallow written by the enigmatic Roscoe Avanger.  The Dellawisp, named after the birds of the same name, is a hidden gem in town.  The diminutive, bright blue dellawisp birds definitely add a quirky element to the atmosphere of the story.  Their front garden habitat sounds lovely.

The Dellawisp only contains five apartments and one supervisor's office.  It's small, yet the occupants of its apartments are larger than life.  Zoey is a soon-to-be college student at nearby Charleston College who moves into her deceased mother Paloma's unit in the hopes of learning more about her.  Zoey also has an invisible bird named Pigeon.  Her twenty-something neighbor Charlotte is a henna tattoo artist, and she doesn't like discussing her past.  Mac, a thirty-something chef, creates at a posh resort on the island.   Hoarder Lizbeth Lime is one of two sisters living at the Dellawisp, and she dies the first night Zoey moves in.  Her reclusive sister Lucy lives there, too, and a sighting of her is very rare.  Frasier is the super, and he inherited the ability to see ghosts:  There are three ghosts residing at the Dellawisp.  Oliver, Lizbeth's son and recent college grad, is also a character in the story.

Zoey is hired by Frasier to clean out Lizbeth's unit and hunt for a story idea intended for Roscoe Avanger.  She finds a few "treasures" she thinks Oliver would like, and she begins texting him while he's still in California.  Zoey wants to know her neighbors, so she initiates conversations with Charlotte and Mac, and eventually they become friends.  The friendships blossom as Zoey finishes the clean-out job and decides to explore her new island home.

All of the residents have mommie issues.  All of them.  An underlying theme is this: Children are not resilient.  Overcoming awful, negligent, narcissistic moms is hard.  But on the other side of the coin, the "found family" trope is very uplifting, and these broken folks rally together to form a family.  The ghosts also play interesting parts, yet the reader must wait until the very end to discover the identity of the third one.  

If you enjoy Southern fiction with a unique sense of place, magical realism, stories about found families, and character-driven stories, you will love Other Birds.  It is one of the best books I've read in a long time, and I am confident it will top my Best Books List in December.  




Our book club put together a list of our favorite magical realism books, and I thought I'd share it with you in the graphic below:


Have you read any of these?



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Until next time...

Blessings!
Ricki Jill


3 comments

  1. I can't wait to read this one! I've read all of her other books. She's from Asheville and I wish I had met her when we spent more time there. She writes such good stories...with that special touch of the unexpected! Thanks for the review. I hope you are having a good week my friend!

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  2. I'm not familiar with this author or this genre, I need to expand my horizons!

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  3. This sounds fabulous. I am trying to get some winter reads for when the cold sets in. I am putting this on my list. I love when there is a mystery and magic all in one story. Happy Sunday RJ. Have a great start to the new week. xoxo Kris

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