34 minutes ago
Thursday, September 15, 2011
Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel
When Frances accepts an invitation to visit Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in Biscayne Bay, she has no idea that her simple "yes" to a new friend will determine the course of her life for the next two dozen years. Set in Miami from the late '60s to the 1990s, Stiltsville is a
sweeping journey seen through the eyes of one woman as she experiences love, motherhood, friendship, hurricanes, racial tension, and finally, a tragic death in slow motion.
In her debut novel, Daniel describes the experiences of three generations in one family whose spiritual heart is centered in a modest bungalow built a few feet above the water. When Frances meets and marries Dennis, she learns to live her life on the water, from bay to ocean to everglade to bayou. She navigates through it all — infidelity, empty-nest syndrome, and debilitating illness — sometimes with grace and humor, sometimes with anger and bitterness, but always with the same people by her side.
Daniel excels in capturing the flavor and decadence of Miami as it became a multicultural hotbed. In Stiltsville, she has woven factual events
into Frances's life from a tumultuous period that witnessed racial beatings, the cocaine wars, and Hurricane Andrew. The result is a riveting novel filled with pathos.
This was an okay read for me. The book begins in 1969 when Frances finds herself in Stiltsville, where she meets Dennis and falls in love with him. I was drawn to their love story immediately. The story of their lives together goes on to them marrying and having a child. They go through several ordeals as a couple and parents. The house in Stiltsville starts out almost being a character in itself. There were times I was more concerned about the house on stilts than I was about Frances and what she was going through. By the end of the book, Stiltsville no longer even plays a roll in the story. The end of the book picked up again for me and I was satisfied with the way it ended although it was an ending that required kleenex. I think I was supposed to come to the conclusion that marriage is like a house on stilts? I would give this book 3 stars. The beginning and the ending drew me in but the middle just lacked something for me. Maybe it just wasn't the book for me. Maybe it was because I didn't connect with Frances and at times I really didn't even care for her as a person. Others have given this book glowing reviews, so be sure to check them out before making your decision to read this book. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea. It was a decent read but not an earth shattering read.
I read this book from the public library for the Southern Belle Challenge