Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree


It’s 1930 and times are tough everywhere.  The garden club in Darling, Alabama, have just held their first garden club meeting in their new clubhouse.    It needs a new roof, but that’s the least of their problems.   Something’s going on at the bank, and the young blond who works at the cosmetics counter at the drug store goes missing--then is found dead in a stolen roadster.

Life in a small town in the 1930’s is depicted so charmingly, and with such period detail that it’s easy to feel as if you’re right there with the Dahlias, playing Hearts on Monday night, paying a nickel for a bar of soap, correcting carbon copies of typewritten letters, and worrying about the welfare of your friends and neighbors.  

Humor, sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant, adds to the cozy, comfortable tone.  When convicts escape from a prison farm, and one gets away in the direction of Briar’s Swamp:  “Buddy Norris had tried to give chase on his Indian Ace motorcycle but he had hit a chicken, lost control, and rammed his motorcycle into the corncrib,”  breaking his arm.  The chapter featuring a conversation on a telephone party line is priceless--and “spot on.”

Susan Witting Albert gets all the details right in this new series, and its first offering:  “The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree.”

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