When I first read the title of this book, Wonderland Creek, and then saw that the main character’s name was Alice, I was expecting that this book would end up being some sort of Alice in Wonderland spin off. I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn’t, but also when Alice who narrates the book commented herself about how it was like she was in Wonderland and related some of the characters in Acorn, KY to those in Alice in Wonderland. (The creek just so happens to really be named Wonderland Creek).
In the beginning, we meet Alice (who goes by Allie) who works at the Library and always has her nose in a book. (Sounds kind of familiar… do I know anyone like that? hmm.) When her boyfriend catches her reading a book at a funeral of one of the locals, he gets upset with her and tells her how she doesn’t have a life outside of books and ultimately ends up breaking up with her. (One of the reasons for the breakup is that she had an “episode” of sorts at the movie theater and told everyone how she didn’t like how the movie changed the book so much. Not that I go off at movie theaters, but I often do make the same comparisons!)
Allie decides that she should get away and decides to deliver the books she has been collecting for a needy community herself. She had been communicating with the librarian there, Leslie MacDougall and doesn’t think it would be a problem for her to stay a few nights while her Aunt and Uncle go off to a spa, dropping her off and picking her back up on their way through the town. Allie is pleasantly surprised when Leslie, whom she thought was a woman, is actually a man that goes by ‘Mack’ and that there are no restaurants or hotels in the small town of Acorn. (Or electricity or running water or indoor plumbing!)
Mack ends up getting shot early on in Allie’s visit, and she learns of a lot of strange things that happen in the town of Acorn. The mine which had helped everyone make a living closed down so many people were poor. There was also a HUGE fued going on between two of the main families in town – the Arnetts and the Larkins. This was over some money that was apparently buried by an Arnett and a Larkin. Each family believes the other family has already found and spent the money. Mack also believes that an accident at the mine killing one of his best friends was not an accident at all.
Mack ends up faking his death really early on in the book and Allie has to help tend to the library, garden, etc at the home as well as Miss Lillie who is nearing 100 years old and has raised Mack as her own since she was his mother’s midwife and his mother died during childbirth.
The book is 35 chapters long and quite a good read, though it did take me a few days to get through it. All throughout the book Allie talks about how she is going to head back home – but something ends up making her stay a little longer each time. (One being that her Aunt and Uncle were sent home when they first came to pick her up!) Lillie believes that God sent Allie to Acorn for a reason and intends to find out why. The town does end up finding out why, but I’ll leave that up to you to figure out once you start reading 🙂
About the book
I was perfectly content with my life–that is, until the pages of my story were ripped out before I had a chance to live happily ever after.
Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But the happily-ever-after life she’s planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real one. To top it off, Alice loses her beloved library job because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.
Longing to run from small-town gossip, Alice flees to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the tiny coal-mining town of Acorn, a place with no running water, no electricity, and where the librarians ride ornery horses up steep mountain passes to deliver books. When Alice is forced to stay in Acorn far longer than she planned, she discovers that real-life adventure, mystery–and especially romance–may be far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.
About the Author
Lynn Austin, a former teacher who now writes and speaks full time, has won seven Christy Awards for her historical fiction. One of those novels, Hidden Places, has also been made into a Hallmark Channel movie. Lynn and her husband have raised three children and make their home near Chicago, Illinois. Visit Lynn’s Web site at www.lynnaustin.org
I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in order to write this review. I was not asked to write a favorable review and all opinions are 100% mine.