Bonita Faye, by Margaret Moseley****

bonitafayeBrash Books has a new release, and it’s exactly the kind of novel you’d want to take to a warm sandy beach, or perhaps just to curl up with while the snow falls. I was permitted an advance glimpse, courtesy of Brash Books Priority Reviewers Circle. It was originally published in 1997, but due to be released again February 23, 2016. You’re in for a good time with this one.

Bonita Faye is our protagonist, of course, and although her story has been compared to Fannie Farmer’s work, I found her to be more of a female, less extreme version of Forrest Gump. The narrative begins in a dialect that is semi-literate; the setting is partly in Poteau, Oklahoma and partly elsewhere. Bonita Faye is born poor and without any real source of support, but rises above it through means that are both ingenious and at times, very funny. Although the story is ostensibly a mystery, we don’t need to know who-dunnit, because Bonita Faye did it. All of it.

Because some of us don’t need a knight to ride to our rescue. Some of us can take care of ourselves.

Although I found the protagonist to be engaging, I think the novel would actually be strengthened by pulling back a bit on the cornpone dialect. There is also a point at which her education is improved and her English becomes more eloquent, but then for no discernible reason, she falls back into the same aw-shucks dialect she had initially.

There are multiple characters that are developed besides Bonita Faye. I liked Claude (“Oink oink!”) and also Simone. I had trouble buying into the second half of the thread involving Michel. I also found the thread with Elly to be problematic, although I loved the final resolution of the problem that develops toward the end.

When push comes to shove, Margaret Moseley is a force to be reckoned with, and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future. Those looking for a fun, accessible vacation read should order this book.

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