In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.
These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, it is worn, earmarked and loved. And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.
By LaVyrle Spencer
POV: Third person
Setting: Georgia, 1941
Ellie had few social skills and little knowledge of human nature except malice and distrust. Born out of wedlock, she was raised in isolation, by an aggrieved mother and cynical grandmother (widow of a cheating minister.) She married the first man who showed her kindness. A beekeeper and hoarder of junk, he died after falling from a tree onto his beloved beehives. Crazy Widow Dinsmore is left with two young boys, a baby on the way, and a ramshackle property.
She needs a handyman but the townspeople would rather gossip about her past than come to her aid. So she gives them something to talk about with an ad in the newspaper. Wanted-A Husband. Need healthy man of any age to work a spread and share the place. See E. Dinsmore, top of Rock Creek Road.
Will Parker is a drifter and an ex-con. He can’t seem to escape his past. After three days, his boss discovers his conviction of first-degree murder and fires him. With no money and a growl in his belly, he is reduced to stealing a clean shirt and jeans from a backyard clothesline. The ad he previously saw in the newspaper no longer seems a joke but a possibility for his future.
The love story that evolves between Ellie and Will is slow, natural and sweet. Both complement one another in temperament and life skills. She longs for recognition as a woman and needs a partner and a friend. He dares to hope for love and craves validation as human being after a life of ridicule and abuse.
LaVyrle places two complicated characters into a simple, believable setting. She avoids the usual hero/heroine conflicts or misunderstandings and instead offers real life bumps in the romance. World War II, the Draft and narrow-minded people threaten the couple’s happiness. Their journey will make you laugh, cry and smile through your tears.
All of Ms. Spencer’s books have that one scene to make the reader pause with sadness, joy, desperation or wonder. In Morning Glory, Will enters Ellie’s home for a meal after working on her property and he points to the sink. The description of intense pleasure he feels as warm water flows over his hands makes the reader want to wrap her arms around this deprived and lonely man. Ellie begins to fall in love as she watches his reaction to this simple act, and knows she has found a kindred soul. We glimpse the beaten down boy and root for the man he becomes through her love. We watch as Ellie draws her strength from him and fights to keep the life they have built.
The sensual level is sweet. The sex scenes are the weakest part of the story. But the emotion pulls your heartstrings and does not disappoint. Plump up the pillow, grab the Kleenex box, sit back and enjoy.
Although LaVyrle Spencer retired in 1997, she remains one of my favorite authors and her books will never leave my shelf. She has won five RITA awards, been on the New York Times best seller list over a dozen times and consistently sold over 1.5 million copies with each new cover. I believe new readers who ‘discover’ Ms. Spencer will only be disappointed by the fact that no new titles will come our way.