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READ: Review, Griselda Takes Flight by Joyce Magnin

Oops, she did it again. Joyce Magnin combines the ridiculous with the poignant in a way that spells sublime. And that’s especially true of Griselda Takes Flight (Abingdon, releases 4.1.11), the third offering in her Bright’s Pond series.  No one but Magnin could put together a comatose treasure hunter; his not-so-concerned fiancée; an obsessive pumpkin farmer; two sisters learning to love their way out of dysfunction; and a pilot who makes an emergency landing and decides to stay a while. And no one but Magnin could weave all these and more into a loveable, believable, page-turning story.  In what’s become her signature style, the author uses flawed characters and awkward, often humorous situations to teach powerful lessons. Griselda Sparrow, who takes flight in not only an airplane but her self-confidence, shows readers the power of truth to set free. And as other Bright’s Pond residents work through their own versions of truth-telling, readers will no doubt do the same.  At one point in my reading, I realized I was holding my breath. Charlotte Figg, heroine of Magnin’s second novel, was about to encounter Griselda and friends for the first time. My concern for my fictional friends defined my discovery about their creator:  Oops, she did it again.  Read it and smile. Because when Griselda Takes Flight, your heart will,...

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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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