Published by: Tynedale
Published on: August 17, 2012
Page Count: 400
My Reading Format: Review copy sent to me by the publisher for consideration.
Available Formats: Paperback and eBook
She Reads Selection: Man in the Blue Moon is the November 2012 selection for the She Reads Book Club. Check out their website for more information about this book and to find reviews by other members of the She Reads network.
World War I is raging in Europe, but Ella, a mother of three, is in Florida waging a personal battle for her family’s survival. She does not know where her opium addict husband is, her youngest son is horribly sick and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, she is a just a hair’s breadth away from losing her store and the family’s only source livelihood to foreclosure. It was at that time that Lanier arrives in town. That he is distantly related to her absent husband does not help his cause, but after he heals her son and then agrees to help her clear the timber on the land her father passed down to her, she begrudgingly allows him to stay. Her small town most certainly takes notice and soon she finds that she’s not just fighting to keep her property from the the town’s corrupt banker, she has to worry about her reputation and the respect of sons as well.
I don’t typically read Christian fiction, so when I noticed that this book was published by Tynedale, I approached the book tentatively. I do not like to be preached at when I read, no matter who is doing the preaching about what. I am happy to report that there was no need for worry. There was a spiritual component to Man in the Blue Moon, but it was simply part of the fabric of Southern life. In fact, Reverend Simpson, who’s patience with his wife reminded me of Nels Oleson, was one of my favorite characters. When he finally said his peace, it was just what Apalachicola needed.
From the very beginning, I empathized with Ella. She is a mother at the end of her rope. She deeply loved her sons and, despite his many faults, her husband. Still, she couldn’t help but reflect on what might have been in her life had she listened to those who loved her before she loved Harlan. Lanier is also a character living with or, more appropriately, hiding from regrets. I liked what Michael Morris did with these two characters throughout the novel. There was no easy comfort between them. There couldn’t be. Lanier does all that he can to prove that he’s a good man, but the way in which he heals the worst illnesses and injuries is unsettling. Like Ella, I wanted to believe in him, but I had to hold back until I knew more. In the end, I was like Keaton. I couldn’t overlook the way in which he championed a cause that was not his own and didn’t allow even the most horrendous setback to get up and leave town because he could.
Fans of Southern fiction will enjoy Man in the Blue Moon. It has all the right elements, small towns, busybody neighbors, healers, history, and a fight against injustice. While there were certain parts of the novel that felt slow, I was invested in Ella’s story from the beginning. I enjoyed Micheal Morris’ writing, which eased me into Apalachicola. His characters filled the town perfectly, giving it personality and history. Best of all, I enjoyed the ending. The last sentence, which told me all I needed to know about Ella’s future, left me with a smile.