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A few months ago, I fell in love. In love, that is, with the small fictional community of Bright’s Pond. In love with characters who revealed strength, frailty, and a generous dash of fun. In love with an author whose penchant for Converse sneakers mirrors her fresh, distinctive voice. I loved Joyce Magnin’s debut novel, The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow and was delighted to receive an advance reader copy of her September release, Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise. Although Charlotte Figg is also a Bright’s Pond novel from Abingdon Press, it has only limited connections to Agnes and should not be considered its sequel. The colorful characters of Charlotte Figg live in their own unique world. In quick succession, Charlotte Figg becomes a widow, buys a mobile home in the Paradise Trailer Park sight unseen, and moves into it with her dog Lucky. Soon, she begins an unlikely friendship with free-spirited artist and prayer warrior Rose Tatoo. The relationship yields new purpose for Charlotte when Rose half-prays, half-pushes her into the role of founder/manager of a women’s softball team. As the Paradise Angels’ season progresses, Charlotte discovers—and reveals—some less-than-comfortable truths about herself, her fellow players, and her God. One of my favorite elements in both books is Magnin’s uncanny ability to use flawed but believable characters to display painful truths. Charlotte Figg forces its namesake to confront not only the abusive marriage in which one of her players is trapped but her own past wounds as well. Plot twists combine to propel the story in a direction readers may not intend to go. But don’t let the hot topics scare you. Find a quiet spot and savor this book. Its combination of tough and tender goes down with all the appeal of one of Charlotte’s homemade pies. Read the book, visit Paradise—and fall in love all over...

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