SUMMER READS: Women’s Fiction by Carolyn Brown


It’s the middle of August. It’s hot and often humid. A time when a hammock looks pretty good. This portrait of a woman doing her correspondence while sitting in a hammock under the trees is a cooling view. Perhaps there’s a breeze.

What if, instead of dutifully looking through her letters, the woman reclined with a book? Fast forward to 2018. I suggest pleasant hammock reading on a summer’s day can be found in a genre called Women’s Fiction. No thinking required. The stories are somewhat formulaic. The endings are positive. And the challenge for the female protagonist is no more than she can bear.

Today’s featured author is Carolyn Brown, the author of eighty-five books in the genres of Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, Cowboy Romance, and Women’s Fiction. It’s clear from the categories that her books are a far cry from the literary and historical fiction I usually read, but sometimes a bit of fluff is welcome.

Strawberry Hearts DinerTHE STRAWBERRY HEARTS DINER is a fun read. You can tell just by looking at the cover that the book is mostly cheerful. The story is about the women who own and run the Strawberry Hearts Diner, its name a play on words. The diner offers all manner of good food, the Strawberry Tartmost delectable being strawberry tarts, preferably consumed on the premises. No one for any reason can take more than two tarts out of the diner. The recipe, of course, is a closely guarded secret known only to Nettie, co-owner of the diner.

The diner is located in a small Texas town called Pick, because another small town had already snagged the name Strawberry. Primary characters besides Nettie include Vicky Rawlins, and her daughter Emily. The male characters take a secondary place. And then there’s the bad guy, developer Carlton Wolfe who wants to buy all the property in town for a real estate development.

It may seem like I told you the story, but I didn’t. There’s another character, Jancy Wilson, who finds her place in Pick in a process of redemption.

The Ladies' RoomTHE LADIES’ ROOM

If The Strawberry Hearts Diner is heartwarming, The Ladies’ Room adds a dollop of humor to the mix. Once again the setting is a small town. This time it’s Tishomingo, Oklahoma, an actual place. In the book Tishomingo is a town where everyone knows everyone and goes to church on Sunday.

When the story opens, Gertrude Martin is dead, yet her voice is heard as a driving force throughout the story. She is/was a person who didn’t suffer fools and pretty much did as she pleased.

The story opens at her funeral. Trudy, the primary character, finds herself in a stall of the church ladies’ room when her two gossipy cousins stroll in. Not only does Trudy find out what they really think of her, she discovers her husband is having an affair with a woman half his age. Both while she remains undiscovered in her stall.

After the funeral, everyone goes to the reading of the will. Great-Aunt Gertrude left everything to Trudy. As the book unfolds, “everything” turns out to be more than Gertrude’s crumbling house and large bank account.

Will forty-two year old Trudy leave her husband and get a life? Will she find love? Did I mention that Women’s Fiction generally has a happy ending?


Correspondence by Theodore Robinson. Public Domain.

Strawberry Tart / Cakes of France by Kamel15. Creative Common Attribution.

Carolyn Brown.

SUMMER READS: Two Novels of Forgotten Women

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SUMMER READS: Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton & Patsy Jefferson Randolph

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Once upon a time, most people lived small, but they weren’t necessarily happy about it. This one room cottage is part of the Ulster Folk Museum in Northern Ireland. It looks charming with its thatched roof and graveled pathway. Inside we see a sitting/sleeping area next to the fire, with kitchen materials close to hand.… Continue Reading


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Summer is a happy time for me, but I suspect that’s my preconceived attitude. I want summer to be happy, because it contains so many things I like. Happiness is an elusive concept. We all want to be happy, but we don’t define happiness in the same way, which makes becoming “happy” a bit tricky.… Continue Reading


Good historical fiction takes the reader into an authentic world where the story is presented against the backdrop of actual customs and material culture, for example, food as it is eaten and prepared or family customs such as purdah, the seclusion of women within the household. When there’s also a mystery involved, it becomes more… Continue Reading


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