What Shirley Missed
Author: Donna Wootton
Title: What Shirley Missed
Trade Paperback: 230 pages
Suggested Retail (Paperback): $24.95
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About What Shirley Missed:
Donna Wootton, in her new novel, What Shirley Missed, had woven a realistic web of people, their circumstances, their secrets and their fates. You should not miss this thought provoking story of intergenerational characters that will make you think about life and death.
Serve hash brownies to her bridge club? Check. Attend her granddaughter’s prom channeling her inner Thelma and Louise? Check. Get arrested? Check.
Shirley Palmer is determined to have the most exciting summer of her life. And her husband, daughter, grandkids, and friends can either come along for the ride or stay and pick up the pieces. Their choice.
But Shirley’s bucket list is widening the fault lines in her relationships. Some fractures create new understanding with those she loves. Others release resentments that threaten everything she holds dear. Ultimately Shirley comes to realize what really matters and what she must do. But first there’s that last golden wish to fulfill, perhaps the most dangerous one of all…
“What Shirley Missed” will resonate with anyone who has loved- and hated- their family. Donna Wootton has created unforgettable characters with complex inner lives that will keep you turning the pages long after you should have turned out the light.
Reading Donna Wootton’s book, What Shirley Missed, is like enjoying a big slice of strawberry rhubarb pie with vanilla ice cream. It’s sweet, enjoyable, a treat and perhaps a family favourite. This book is like that; we can relate, we can sit around the kitchen table and we hear who we are and where we’ve been, or not. Every family, every person, every child has a perception regarding what happened with their uncle, cousin, or the child whose parents aren’t who we thought they were. A family all has a different version of its history and a tale to tell of one person who influenced them. We may or may not ever find out, their favourite pie, or person. Everyone may eat at the same table but everyone perceives it differently. The stories vary and yet, what are we all, if not a collection of our own stories?
This is what grabbed me the most about Wootton’s book—who knows what, who is aware of the difficulties of family love and who has been hurt by that same love. Wootton skillfully weaves the members through their lives. Each person is fully described and given a voice. Dellport, the small town they are such a part of, becomes another character that has influence as well. The dynamics and interactions of the intergenerational individuals in the story are believable and captivating, due to Wootton’s writing skill and attention to detail. I felt that I was also at the kitchen table, in the bar, and saddened by the funeral of the spunky Shirley. She is the heart of the family and the unintended source of many of their conflicts.
Hopes, values, warmth, love and misunderstandings are truthfully woven together like the spider’s web, but some get caught and some don’t. The addition of a long-time Chilean servant, who is more of a friend, additional sister or mother to the members of the main unit, brings an extra layer of warmth and intrigue. Anyone who is secure and a full citizen of their country of birth can easily misconstrue, forget or ignore, without intention, the fear of an immigrant whenever the police may be involved. Such is the case of Felicia, the family maid, who suddenly leaves for Vancouver and returns only with the death of her employer and friend. Wondering what she knows and sees is part of the intrigue.
is the author of “Risk It!”
“How to Overcome Fear” and “Make Smart Changes”
With delicate insight, What Shirley Missed portrays an entire Ontario town and the complex relations among family members that are both strained and enriched by the surprising impulsiveness of its main character. It’s a story that charms, amuses and moves as it celebrates life.
publisher and editor, author of
“Against the Flight of Spring
and “River Neither”
Donna Wootton writes about life in small-town Ontario with a warm heart and an observant eye. Her characters are likeable and convincing, and their adventures will make you laugh out loud. This is an entertaining and insightful novel.
editor and workshop leader,
author of “What We Hold in Our Hands”
and “The Great and the Small”
In this fast-moving novel Wootton explores the secrets and predicaments of a family, their hopes and disappointments, their dreams and sacrifices. Wootton tells their story with feeling and humour without ever letting up on the suspense. It’s a page turner!
Erika Rummel, author of,
“The Painting on Auerperg’s Wall” and “A Nobel Affair”
Professor of History emerita.