Newspaper journalist and novelist Ferrendelli (An Invincible Summer, 2015, etc.) tells the story of a troubled big-city reporter who starts over in a small town.
Bridgette Connor of the Reporter-Herald in Albuquerque, New Mexico, is emotionally spent when she flees the state, haunted by the suicide of one of her exposé subjects and heartbroken over her own decision to terminate her pregnancy. She has no intention of stopping in Windsor, Kentucky, until an automobile accident strands her there. She stumbles, injured, into the Sunrise Diner, where Alexis Parker, the proprietor, helps her to find medical help and gives her a place to stay. The two immediately hit it off, and Bridgette starts a new life in Windsor with Alexis; her daughter, Eden, who has various special needs; and her African-American housekeeper, nanny, and friend, Eda Mae Fletcher. After two false starts at resuming her journalism career, Bridgette realizes that she’s meant to work at the diner, and after providing Alexis with emergency financial assistance, she becomes her business partner. The two women confront myriad challenges together but are still unprepared for a devastating crisis. Later, Alexis must act when it seems that Eden’s biological father, Cal, is determined to do what’s worst for his daughter. This novel is largely an emotionally satisfying read, reminiscent at times of Fannie Flagg’s 1987 novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. However, the author often has Bridgette and Alexis proclaim their deep, abiding friendship for each other in dialogue rather than simply showing it in action. One secondary character, postal employee Blanche Ashby, provides comic relief and is more fully developed than some of the other players; Eda Mae, in particular, feels like a throwback, stock character of early- to mid-20th-century literature. Pragmatic readers may also wonder how Bridgette could indefinitely stay on in Windsor after initially intending to seek refuge there for just one night.
A sentimental, contemporary women’s novel with a retro vibe that’s engaging despite its flaws.