I read this book five years ago; at the time, it was gaining a lot of press for being 99-cent indie book that hit the New York Times bestseller list. I was willing to risk a buck, and was glad I did.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I’m just going to say it right upfront: I completely understand what all the hype is about where this book is concerned.
Darcie Chan has created a little Vermont town with some endearing characters. Widow Mary MacAllister never leaves her home because of severe agoraphobia; she is the titular recluse. The townfolk make up all kinds of rumors about her, not knowing that she hides because of two horrible crimes visited upon her (one of which has left her permanently disfigured). The one person she’s willing to see is Father Michael O’Brien, the town priest with a secret of his own.
Every now and again, tragedy strikes in town … and somehow, the victim is recompensed. Every kid in town gets a birthday card with money in it … and no one knows from whence they come.
Each of the townsfolk in the story has a quirk or a secret, but for the most part they are good people trying to make it in the world. There’s the requisite not-so-nice fellow and the local “crazy lady” (Daisy, for whom I felt a great deal of compassion).
This is a well-written, character-driven story. I found myself caring very much about each of the townsfolk, to the point that I did not want to put the book down. I cried more than once.
Highly recommended for those who enjoy literary fiction.
(I obtained this book from Smashwords, from which it has subsequently been removed. That’s a pity because I would have liked to share this review on the site from which the book was purchased.)