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.

My Thoughts

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


  1. I think this book has a pretty cover, and it does sound interesting. I might check it out. Excellent review!

  2. I was wondering why your reviews never appeared into my google reader...I wasn't subscribed. I fixed the issue.

    I've seen this book around, and it seems like a book I would really enjoy. I didn't realize it was a debut novel.

  3. As I was reading your review I was thinking that it sounded like the book's message was that marriage is like a house on stilts and then you stated this very thought in the next line! I could see where you were headed. Thanks for the review.

  4. A friend of mine had similar feelings about this book, so I think I will pass. Great review, though! :)

  5. A lot of people felt this way about this book, but I just adored it. It made me think of my parents' marriage.

  6. I've seen reviews at both ends of the spectrum. I'm not sure if I will read this or not, but your review was excellent and very fair.

  7. I think that often when a book lags in the middle, and the ending redeems it, reviewers are more inclined to give it a better review. I liked this honest review.

  8. Too bad this wasn't a better read for you. It certainly does sound good.


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