Saturday, January 14, 2017


If asked to sum up this novel, words like "idyllic" and "heartwarming" would come to mind. There is nothing complex or extraordinary about either the story line or the characters. It is a simple story about the simple people of a small town in Iowa and one unremarkable Swedish woman who manages to shake up their status quo.
Since I tend to like characters who are a bit more opaque and plots full of twists and layers, it is surprising that I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. In many ways it reminded me of The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore but lacked that novel's fantastical elements. Both novels share a small town setting, some stereotypical characters that would be found in that setting, and the usual plot elements that one might find in a small town where everyone is in everyone else's business.

The unusual plot element in Readers of Broken Wheel is the legality of the main female character's residency status in the United States and how the whole town bands together to fix things so that she can stay. Along the way, several unlikely couples find each other and work their way, by novel's end, to happily ever after.

There is nothing terribly unique to be found here; it is simply a feel-good story. What pulled the novel from three to four stars for me was the narration talents of Fiona Hardingham. The audio absolutely blew me away. From the waitress at the local diner to the immigration officer and his police sidekick, every single character had their own distinctive voice and persona--a feat made all the more admirable when you realize that within a given section Ms. Hardingham would flow seamlessly from a woman with a Swedish accent, to a southern black shopkeeper, to a local do-gooder, to name just a few. Fiona Hardingham's narration was so outstanding that in the future I will listen to her books, not because I have any interest in the books themselves but because I know her interpretation will make the novels well worth my listening time.

If you are looking for a read that isn't at all demanding and could be classified as gentle entertainment, I think you would find this worth your time. Better yet, cue up the audio and check a few things off your chore list while you listen.

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