Miss Dreamsville and the Lost Heiress of Collier County, by Amy Hill Hearth. Atria Books. 320 pages. Trade paperback $16.00.
This sequel to “Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society” (2012) should satisfy those who filled the many book club appearances through which the earlier title was effectively marketed. It inches forward a year or so into the mid-1960s and collects most of the same oddball characters whose engaging interactions in the literary society made for enjoyable social comedy.
Naples is still portrayed as a sleepy little Southwest Florida town, but this time out its attractions are understood as a lure to investors and a threat to those who like its quiet pace and its special brand of natural beauty.
Narrator Dora Witherspoon, who had left Naples on a search to find her roots in Jackson, Mississippi, finds herself brought home to help counter the effort of her ex-husband, Darryl Norwood. With out-of- state backing (in itself a cultural betrayal), Norwood is planning to build a large development along a tidal river. The name he chooses for it, “Dreamsville,” is another betrayal, as it steals the name invented by a prominent Naples character for her popular radio show. That woman certainly doesn’t want to appear connected with such a project.
The name “Miss Dreamsville” is the invention of Jackie Hart, a brash New England transplant who during her few years in Naples has invigorated the womenfolk, battering down the door of their traditional deference, if not subservience, to men. She breathes the fresh air of the civil rights and women’s rights movements into a remote pocket of Southern resistance. She makes a handful of close friends, but quite a few enemies as well. Jackie is change.
So is Darryl’s Dreamsville.
From our perch in time, we know that for decades people like Darryl have won, yet to see the battle brewing in 1964 is quite exciting. Once the ladies begin their campaign to block Dreamsville, they discover that one of them might be the actual property owner of the land that Darryl is planning to develop. Proving the matter depends on the skills and industry of their fledgling lawyer, who seems to be outgunned by the team that Darryl’s backers can afford to hire. The pros and cons of development are one thing; the question of ownership is quite another.
The effort re-energizes the Collier County Women’s Literary Society, which had been rather dormant for a while. What these individualists have in common, ironically, is their sense of community and the need to belong. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the September 9, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly; and the September 10 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte editions; and the October 22 Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Miss Dreamsville Returns