Book Review: Man in the Blue Moon

November 8, 2012 book review, She Reads, southern lit, ucf book festival 1

Written by: Michael Morris

Published by: Tyndale August 2012

Pages: 377 pages

Source: Publisher

In the small town of Dead Lakes Florida, Ella Wallace is busy enough raising her three sons since her husband of 18 years, Harlan, has left her. Her Aunt had warned Ella that he was no good, but she was swept up in love, and left her dreams of Paris and being an artist behind. Harlan is a man of dreams..he convinces Ella to open a store in Dead Lakes, on the land she has inherited.  When Harlan becomes an unreliable alcoholic he resorts to Opium to help him.  Now Ella is sure he has run off to some Opium den to feed his addiction. Ella must also find a way to pay off a second mortgage Harlan took on her land.  Her land is all that is left of her legacy and heritage her father left her, land that is filled with pine and cypress trees, and a mysterious spring. The banker Clive Gillespie has no sympathy for Ella’s situation..naturally he has plans of his own.  When a stranger shows up and says he is there to help Ella there are rumors and more questions left unanswered.  Who is Lanier Stillis, and what is he doing in Dead Lakes?

This book draws it’s readers in right from the beginning.  There is sadness for Ella, a good woman done wrong as you might here in a country song.  There is small town gossip and meddling, and then there is a strange man, and men of faith who preach different stories, and there is healing, and most of all love.  Who could resist such a book?  I am a southern women, born in Texas, raised in the Midwest and now I’ve spent most of my life right here in Florida, and this book touched me and made me happy to be from the south, with all of it’s craziness and quirks. 

Michael Morris has taken one odd story from his youth, a tale his grandfather told and built a book around it that has such depth and detail that I am in awe of his gift.  I love when writers write of the places they are from, the history and details of their heritage.  Apalachicola is a small town in the panhandle of Florida, and his even smaller town of Dead Lakes could be almost any town in the South. The characters are so richly described that I could picture each of them, Ella and her 3 sons, their friend Narsissa who is Indian and just showed up one day too, nosy Myer Simpson, wife of the Reverend Simpson, and many more.  Morris uses words to paint this story, details of the land, the people and the mood of the people of Dead Lakes.

When the mysterious Lanier does enter the story, things change, some ideas and dreams are born, and yet evil and bad luck seem to haunt Ella in her quest to be free of her debts.  The love of those she has been kind to does help her in many surprising ways, even the friendship and love of formerly close friends.

This book is such a wonderful read, I didn’t want it to end, I wanted to just sit across the road from the Wallace Commissary and watch the lives of the folks of Dead Lakes continue.  I’m so thankful that I’m a member of the She Reads Book Club.  This book is the November read and there will be contests and author interviews and many more reviews of Man in the Blue Moon.  I’ve given this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars, and I highly recommend it.  It’s not just me either, Pat Conroy says to buy it and read it too!!  Please visit Michael Morris‘ website to learn more about him and his other books, and visit She Reads to follow along with posts and chats about this magnificent book!!

I’m also happy to add that Michael Morris will be attending the UCF Book Festival in April of 2013, and I look forward to meeting him and talking more about southern books. 

One Response to “Book Review: Man in the Blue Moon”

  1. bookmagnet

    Wonderful review! I especially like this section:

    I love when writers write of the places they are from, the history and details of their heritage. Apalachicola is a small town in the panhandle of Florida, and his even smaller town of Dead Lakes could be almost any town in the South. The characters are so richly described that I could picture each of them, Ella and her 3 sons, their friend Narsissa who is Indian and just showed up one day too, nosy Myer Simpson, wife of the Reverend Simpson, and many more. Morris uses words to paint this story, details of the land, the people and the mood of the people of Dead Lakes.

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