Small Blessings: Book summary and reviews of Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

Small Blessings

by Martha Woodroof

Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof X
Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof
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About this book

Book Summary

Tom Putnam, an English professor at a Virginia women's college, has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. For more than ten years, his wife Marjory has been a shut-in, a fragile and frigid woman whose neuroses have left her fully dependent on Tom and his formidable mother-in-law, Agnes Tattle.

Tom considers his unhappy condition self-inflicted, since Marjory's condition was exacerbated by her discovery of Tom's brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess. But when Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the campus bookstore's charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to dinner, her first social interaction in a decade, Tom wonders if it's a sign that change is on the horizon. And when Tom returns home that evening to a letter from the poetess telling him that he'd fathered her son, Henry, and that Henry, now ten, will arrive by train in a few days, it's clear change is coming whether Tom's ready or not.

For readers of Helen Simonson and Anna Quindlen, Martha Woodroof's Small Blessings is funny, heart-warming and poignant, with a charmingly imperfect cast of cinema-ready characters. Readers will fall in love with the novel's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life is veering irrevocably off track, the track changes in ways we never could have imagined.


About the Author
Martha Woodroof was born in the South, went to boarding school and college in New England, ran away to Texas for a while, then fetched up in Virginia. She has written for NPR, Marketplace and Weekend America, and for the Virginia Foundation for Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her print essays have appeared in such newspapers as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Small Blessings is her debut novel. She lives with her husband in the Shenandoah Valley. Their closest neighbors are cows.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A warm, caring, and thoroughly entertaining debut that reads remarkably well." - Library Journal

"A pleasant read about ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances and the optimism that guides them." - Kirkus

"A sweet exploration of the way unexpected twists in life can bring surprising rewards." - Booklist

"The novel brims with life and complexity and characters who never stop surprising themselves, and each other. This is a delightful and splendidly intelligent comedy." - Margot Livesey,  New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

"Small Blessings is a comedy of manners that will capture your heart. Woodroof's prose is tart and sweet - smart enough to make you laugh, but with an aching soul that will make you cry." - Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

"Optimistic, wise, and beautifully written, this book about love in all its colors, hope, and the glory of third chances will stay with you long after you close the cover." - Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of A Grown Up Kind of Pretty

This information about Small Blessings shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Reader Reviews

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Diane S.

Small Blessings
When Rose first arrives, a thirty-something unmarried woman, at the college bookstore where she has been hired, she manages to charm everyone in her path. I had a few inner doubts, wondering if this book was going to be one of those unrealistic all sweetness and light novels. As I read on though all those doubts disappeared. These are all characters who on the surface seem to be doing quite well, but underneath are dealing with the same hopes and fears many of us have to face.

An unexpected death and the arrival of six year old Henry will change things in a big way for all the characters. These are ordinary people trying to come to terms with the unusual circumstances they now find their selves involved in. I really loved the warmth and caring Woodruff shows in portraying these people, the understanding and doubts that make them fully fleshed people. My favorite character though is Agnes, Tom's mother in law, she has suffered a tragedy in her past, she is wise, caring and funny. How all these characters join together, help each othe3 but grow individually is what made this novel a special one for this reader. Positive novels, although everyone does not get what they want by book's end, are far and few between.

Told with a great deal of humor this was a wonderful novel. The title small blessings reminded me of my grandmother who always told us to be grateful form the small things we are given.

Roseanne S. (Middlebury, CT)

Small Blessings is a gift to the heart and soul
Martha Woodruff has written one of the most heartwarming and delightful novels I've come across in quite a while. "Small Blessings" centers on several characters and is told from each one's perspective at different points as it progresses. At times funny and at other times achingly poignant, I was pulled in from the start and was held entranced to the end, so very sorry to see it end. Be mindful, however, this is not a syrupy sweet story. Ms. Woodruff has written with such humanity – all the messiness of peoples' lives as well as the deep beauty - in creating the plot and the characters themselves. I grew to love each of the characters for their often peculiar, but endearing, character traits. My copy of the book is filled with numerous corners of pages turned down – sections that touched me and do not want to lose track of. I loved this book and would tell anyone to do him- or herself a favor and read it. Thank you, Martha Woodruff, for a deep, soul-satisfying read.

Sarah C. (Cape Girardeau, MO)

Surprises
What a charming book. All sorts of twists and unexpected turns. The best part is that we all know people just like the characters in real life. A good read, easy and it makes you happy with the outcomes. Certainly not full of angst or bitterness, but full of whimsy and fun.

Susan J. (Twain Harte, CA)

What makes a family?
Fatherhood, commitment, and family are themes of this funny and poignant story. Professor Jim commits easily and fully; Bookshop Rose has a fear of putting down roots. Little Henry charms everyone. Characters are well-drawn, and descriptions are so visually alive that I can see this as a successful stage play or movie. I loved this book and will recommend it to my book club. Woodroof is spot-on about life in a small college town.

Laura M. (Huntsville, TX)

Delightful light reading
Absolutely enchanting! This book gives the reader a unique perspective on what family is. The story of a college professor, a bookstore manager, and a small boy, along with various supporting characters, the plot is fresh and surprising. I really expected something more traditional and overdone. Occasionally the author gives a gentle poke at society's rules and expectations, but doesn't drag up a soap box to lecture from. You stay amused as secrets are revealed one by one. A very nice story.

Julie P. (Fort Myers, FL)

Small Blessings
Small Blessings was one of those books that I didn't want to end. It was a gentle story full of quirky characters who all had their own obstacles to overcome. I wanted them to live down the street from me so I could continue to be part of their lives. There are a lot of heavy issues discussed - alcoholism, mental illness, adoption - some of which are wrapped up quite neatly, and others not so much. I really enjoyed the way the author tossed in quotes from books and songs, like Pippi Longstocking and Three Dog Night. I'll be passing my copy of Small Blessings along to friends who are in the mood for a funny, quirky, yet serious read.

...16 more reader reviews

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