Magnolia City by Duncan W. Alderson | Released March 25, 2014 | Rating: 3 3/4/ 5 | Genre: Historical Fiction | Amazon | Goodreads
Alrighty folks, I’ve never written for a blog post… and for that matter I’ve never written a book review either. Except for, ya know, those mandatory book reviews in school which I just bullshitted my way through because I could never be bothered much with school work because that’s like super lame and boring (insert sullen teenager scoff please). So I guess bear with me and know that I’m just giving my opinion and it in no way means you need to get all butt hurt about it if we don’t agree after you read the book for yourself (because you are definitely supposed to read the book after reading my review!!) **And disclaimer, I’ll probably never be good at not giving away any spoilers so you’ve been warned! But I’ll try in earnest to keep my big trap shut mmmk?
***This is just my general disclaimer here, and I believe I’ve kept some of my bigger opinions in life to myself here in this post. This book wasn’t so polarizing but be for sure that there will be polarizing books in my future and I will open my mouth and state my given opinion and we don’t all have to agree! So we’ll all be adults at that time and bring our big kid pants to the yard so we don’t get all whiney about it…
The title Magnolia City refers to the prevalent nickname for Houston, popular in the early 20th century and before, due to the magnolia groves that grew in East Houston. Throughout the book, there are references to some of the Houston elite women trying to lobby for a magnolia park to return the city to its grandeur during and after the Great Depression. For the “sake of urbanization” the magnolia groves are never reestablished to make the grand park envisioned by the ladies. That return to the “past” was frowned upon in the name of development. The nuance of the title hit me multiple times as I read the book as Hetty, our main character, as she finds her path and future while learning about the past bones in the family closet, so to speak.
Hetty is a member of the Allen family, decedent of the founders of the city of Houston. With all of the grandeur of the roaring 20’s, money and socialite prestige Hetty is on the brink of engagement to a very wealthy young man who would set her and her life for good. But upon meeting a mysterious stranger from Montana, Hetty must now decide her path. Does she do the right thing, as family, friends and society expect of her or does she throw her cards in with the exciting and fresh would-be wildcatter Garret. While Hetty has had enough of social dictates and decides to go with her heart, she still has much to learn about not only herself, but her family, her love, and her wild Texas land. She is one tough cookie though and through some expected and not so expected Miss Priss melt downs, she unlocks some amazing abilities, mysterious family secrets and discovers her own story along the way.
The sweeping scenery was fantastic in my humble (cough) opinion. I found Hetty hard to sympathize with at times being Miss spoiled rich girl but at the same time always ended up coming to her side as she persevered through trials not common for someone of her original upbringing. The story was compelling and I enjoyed the read. I was transported for a time back to the decidedly extra grand Texas size lavishness of the 20’s which I can imagine was something to behold! The weaving of the tale kept me going through to the end and I was not disappointed. Overall I’d give 3 ¾ stars of 5. Read the Goodreads synopsis for more info because I’m trying not to give it all away here.
Love ya and signing off,