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Guest House

By Barbara K. Richardson

        Fate intervenes in Melba Burns’ life in a big way.  She witnesses a fatal accident between a car and a bicyclist.  The bicyclist literally dies in her arms, and after the scene has been processed, she abandons her car and walks home, deciding never to drive again.  Melba has quit her job as a real estate agent and puts her efforts and attention into her farmhouse and garden.
Melba has impulsively bought this farmhouse that speaks to her very soul. She has retreated from most of the world completely unaware that her home will soon house unexpected guests. While learning to take the bus and to walk around town, Melba meets JoLee Garry, a student at the massage clinic in town.  After being kicked out of massage school, JoLee happens to spot Melba on the street one day and gives her a ride home.  The duo form an unlikely friendship, and although JoLee is selfish, a drug user, and of questionable morals, Melba takes her into her home, not realizing what a can of worms she has just opened up.  JoLee has left behind a husband and an eleven- year- old son. The husband, Gene Garry, is an alcoholic and is no way fit to be raising a child.  Not that JoLee herself would be any better.  Before long, Matt Garry has arrived at the farmhouse.  Will Melba be the one to ultimately give this boy the kind of life he deserves?  Or is it out of her hands entirely, leaving her to watch further destruction?
This book builds slowly but surely.  The devastating accident occurs early on, and the magnitude of emotion Melba feels is carefully displayed.  What I liked best about this book is that each individual is very real, very human and recognizable as someone I might know.  Like them, love them, or hate them, Melba, Matt, JoLee and Gene, along with several distinct secondary characters each bring their own brand of charm to the story.  The book is a comfortable read, a sad read, and a joyous read all wrapped into one package.  It is a fast read, an intriguing tale, and a book that will touch the heart of most readers.  This is a book you may want to read more than once, and share with your friends, family or book group.

The Book

Bay Tree Publishing, LLC
March 2010
Fiction / General / Contemporary
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NOTE: Holiday: Thanksgiving

The Reviewer

Laura Hinds
Reviewed 2010
© 2010