Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society

Written by Amy Hill Hearth
Review by Susan Zabolotny

This story is told in the first person by 80-year-old Dora Witherspoon as she takes us back to Collier County, Florida, and the year 1962. She’s a 30-year-old divorced postal worker, healer of snapping turtles, and a bit of an outcast who’s about to experience a life-changing event when Mrs. Jacqueline Hart, recently arrived from Boston, stops by to pick up her mail.  Jackie is determined to make her transition to the South a meaningful one and quickly forms the Collier County Women’s Literary Society.  Besides Dora and Jackie, this group of outsiders is comprised of Mrs. Bailey White, recently released from a lengthy prison term for the murder of her husband; Plain Jane, a spinster who makes her living writing magazine articles about sex; Miss Lansbury, the unassuming librarian; Priscilla Harmon, a young black servant with a passion for learning, and Bobbie-Lee, who’s sure his homosexuality is a secret known only to himself.

Although Jackie thinks of herself as not being very good at anything, she jumps at the chance to host a late-night radio show called Miss Dreamsville.  Only the station manager knows her true identity as Miss Dreamsville’s sultry voice and romantic music mesmerize the citizens of this sleepy little town.  Her true identity will rock the town in a most unexpected way.

A scary encounter with the Klan brings solidarity to the group, and one by one they reveal the deepest part of themselves to each other. These revelations give them the courage to make the changes they had only dreamed of before Miss Dreamsville came into their lives.

Hearth has done very well with her first work of fiction. The characters are endearing, and she has a good understanding of the American South in the 1960s. I recommend it.