Tuesday, November 29, 2011

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (June 9, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1594487936
ISBN-13: 978-1594487934


A debut novel full of heart, in which love, friendship, and charity teach a young woman to live a bigger life.

When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change.

Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It's a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along-featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she's learned in a lifetime.

A heartwarming novel, South of Superior explores the deep reward in caring for others, and shows how one who is poor in pocket can be rich in so many other ways, and how little it often takes to make someone happy.

About the Author
Ellen Airgood runs a diner in Grand Marais, Michigan. This is her first novel.

My Thoughts

As Madeline Stone is grieving the loss of Emmy, the woman who has raised her from a young girl, she tries to figure out where her life should go next. She is set to marry her well to do boyfriend and live in a nice suburb of Chicago. Madeline is approached by Gladys, old girlfriend of her grandfather's to move to McAllaster, Michigan in the Upper Peninsula to help care for Arbutus, her ailing sister. Madeline who is unsure about anything in life, breaks her engagement and treks off to McAllaster. I was sure she was crazy!

When Madeline arrives in McAllaster, she finds herself in a place much different from Chicago. Time seems to have stood still. People live much simpler and are often struggling. The characters seem very real and are very well developed. I could appreciate their struggles and strengths. Mary was one of my very favorite characters. She lives in a house made from two old tool cribs. She is a proud woman who sells syrup and fish that she catches to survive. There are many more interesting people in the tight knit town that you meet within the pages of the book. You really get the feeling of the community in the book.

As Madeline settles in to life in McAllaster, she discovers the sisters own a defunct hotel. The hotel is in need on renovations but the property on which it sits is very valuable. Someone wishes to buy it and tear the old victorian hotel. Madeline uses the hotel as her refuge when she wants to be alone. She has learn quite a bit about her mother, who abandoned her as a child and her grandfather, who refused to take her in. It is a lot for Madeline to take in and she appreciates the solitude she finds in the old hotel. It takes some time, but as Madeline's love for the hotel grows so does her love for the people of McAllaster. There is a love interest in the story but it is not an overpowering storyline. It is very complimentary and fits in the story nicely.

I enjoyed my visit to McAllaster. When I turned the last page, I felt a little sad, kind of how you feel when you leave your favorite vacation spot. The story moved at a slow pace at times but my interest in the characters and town kept me motivated to read on. I highly recommend this debut novel. Ellen Airgood has created characters that stay with you long after the last page. I look forward to seeing what characters Ellen Airgood comes up with next!

I received this book from Riverhead Books/Penguin books through Librarything Early Reviewers Group for my honest opinion, which in no way influenced this review.


  1. I love the cover, it looks like a dollhouse. This sounds like a good read. Thanks for the review.

  2. I do like the sound of this one Beth. Glad it was enjoyable.

  3. I've been wanting to read this one. Glad you liked it!

  4. This one is on my wish list. I'm glad to read that you really enjoyed it. Great review!

  5. Absolutely loved this book. It's on my recommend to others list.

  6. I want to read this one now. I love the UP and it certainly would take a lot of getting used to especially if you came from such a fast-paced, everything at your finger tips city such as Chicago. Excellent review!

  7. The sign of a good book is one where you feel sad when it ends and miss the characters! Glad you liked this one!


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