North of Supposed to Be by Marcia Ferguson

north-of-supposed-to-be


The Specs

ISBN: 0985781009, pb, 596pp, 2012 Franklin Hancock Press, Literary


I was introduced to North of Supposed to Be by the author, Marcia Ferguson. After recommending her book, this was one of the few titles to make my Christmas wish list last year. Now, it’s already Valentine’s Day, and I’ve yet to post my thoughts on her work. To be remedied today!

North of Supposed to Be is a literary gem of culinary discovery and delights. Through a twist of fate, Bronwyn obtains a small fortune and an ex-M16 agent, Ernest Rose, now a butler, whom she calls Jeeves. Bronwyn explores the good life and whets my appetite with all of the yummy foodstuffs she encounters in her travels. It’s a linear novel with a plot that takes place over several years. The story revolves around Bronwyn’s relationship with Jeeves, and how that changes as new people enter their lives, from people Bronwyn may now be able to help with her new riches, to a few men she may come to care about.

Prior to reading the book, I was introduced to the luxury of Bronwyn’s world through Marcia Ferguson’s Pinterest Page. Ferguson has several boards devoted to elements from her novel and this home away from home is one of the best examples of author marketing on Pinterest that I’ve ever found, so I’m going to take a moment and dwell on that too. There are boards devoted to the places Bronwyn visits and to where she finally calls home.

What I really adore about Ferguson’s boards is that most of her pins include comments describing how the image relates to the world of North of Supposed to Be. Ferguson keeps her other boards classy so you get a sense of who she is as a person, besides an author.

One thing I discovered about Marcia Ferguson is that she enjoys coffee. Like coffee, her book invites one to linger and warms, not a physical warmth mind you, but the emotional kind you get from witnessing unconditional kindness. And that may be what I admire the most about Ferguson’s book. Bronwyn.

Bronwyn seems to have such faith in people. She embraces suffering and loneliness and doesn’t allow her fear to overcome doing what she knows to be the right thing, the hard thing to do. Some of Bronwyn’s choices may seem extravagantly cavalier, but I think that it’s her willingness to take a chance on people that makes her so well-loved by others and an interesting character to read. When you’re ready for a slightly longer read, I strongly recommend you curl up with North of Supposed to Be. You’ll be glad you did.

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The Edge of the Earth by Christina Schwarz

schwarz_edgeJourney to the wilds of California’s Big Sur region, where secrets are hidden in the dense fog at The Edge of the Earth, the newest book by New York Times bestselling author Schwarz. The stars of this book are the setting and its inhabitants: the isolated Point Lucia Lighthouse, where young, naive socialite Gertrude “Trudy” Swann and her new husband Oskar run away to work and study in 1898. The Crawley family, austere Henry and formidable Mrs. Crawley, and her brother, Archie Johnston, jointly keep up the lighthouse. The Crawley children, Mary, Edward, Nicholas and Jane (who opens and closes the story), are constantly underfoot, and their tales of a “mermaid” quickly reinforce the need for Trudy to take up the role as the lighthouse’s sole teacher. Trudy’s life changes irrevocably when she discovers the secrets of the light station in the caverns below.

The atmospheric Big Sur is a departure from the Midwestern locales of Drowning Ruth andSo Long at the Fair and far more isolated than Los Angeles is in All is Vanity. The oppressive fog that envelops the lighthouse’s rocky outcropping obscures the wilderness beyond, creating an atmosphere that feels as cold, isolating and as removed from civilization as young Trudy comes to experience firsthand. Schwarz harnesses this setting, hides a few family secrets, and slowly unveils them with a steady amount of suspense, but the pacing could be quicker. The juxtaposition of innocence and corruption is telling and may be off-putting to readers who prefer lighter fare. Fans of Schwarz’s previous novels will quickly recognize her signature approach of delving into the human spirit as Trudy and Oskar take divergent paths to achieving the desires of their hearts.

This review first appeared in the August 2013 issue of Historical Novel Review. I was provided with a copy of this book for the purposes of a review.