My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book source: Public library
Genre: Literary fiction
Objectionable material: One F bomb
Miss Allen Liles has recently accepted a position to teach at a local junior college, located in the foothills of the Ozarks. On the eve of WWII, positions are scarce – especially when you are a woman. Luckily, Miss Liles is an instant favorite with her students, because of her love of poetry and exuberance towards literature. But her position is put in jeopardy when a more than friendly relationship develops between her and 2 of her students – George and Toby. Will the gossip and innuendo that begins to circulate on campus, threaten Allen’s future as a professor? Will her dreams of moving to New York City outweigh her need to stay and defend her reputation? Only Allen’s fortitude will determine her future.
Ms. Carleton has seemingly taken a simple story line, with few and simple characters and turned it into an emotionally charged, feminist treatise on the life of a single woman trying to make a living in the 1940s and maintain her integrity.
It is brimming with tension and subtle complexity – with a gaggle of “ladies,” as Allen calls her female colleagues, as they disassociate from her after the rumors begin to circulate; a brilliant, but naïve dean, who makes ill-advised advances towards her; a stodgy Board member who starts the whole mess; and two innocent, but brilliant students with whom Allen befriends.
I loved The Moonflower Vine, Ms. Carleton’s “rediscovered” classic. This, although not as complex as her first novel, is equally well written.
I only wish she had written MORE novels! I could devour every word!