In December, I broke out of my four-month reading slump with a not-so-great (1 star) book. I didn’t want to end the year with that, so I decided to sneak in one more book. Stealing Home was the perfect positive and inspiring book to end the year on a high note.
Little Gold Book
Stealing Home by Sherryl Woods
Date Started: December 29, 2020
Date Finished: December 31, 2020
Rating: 4/5 star
(Note: I tend to rate books against others in their own genre. A 5-star romance book looks a lot different than a 5-star fiction novel.)
By Its Cover
The first book in the series that inspired Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias, Stealing Home is an uplifting story about a woman finding herself following a divorce. In her early forties, mother of three Maddie Townsend suddenly finds herself facing a divorce that she never expected. Her husband Bill has impregnated his mistress, a nurse at his pediatric practice who Maddie herself hired. For the first time in twenty years, Maddie has time to focus on what she wants and how to build a life of her own. With the support of her two best friends, as well as some encouragement from the town’s hunky baseball coach, Maddie begins her second act.
In My Book
My mom lent me her copies of the entire The Sweet Magnolias series after I mentioned that I wanted to read them before watching the new Netflix series inspired by the books. (I prefer inspired by, rather than based on. Even though I haven’t seen the show yet, I’m sure there are quite a few adaptations from the novels). She lent them to me over the summer, when I happened to be in the midst of a mega reading slump, and so they sat on my shelf quietly calling my name. After reading a quite awful “romance” novel, I needed something to shake up my spirits and end 2020 with a bang.
Although the bang was quieter than I’d anticipated, Stealing Home did just that. I’ll admit, it took me a while to get into this book. It’s not a fast-paced, laugh out loud, raunchy romance by any means. Instead, it focuses on Maddie’s first months as an independent woman following a twenty-year marriage. The plot unravels slowly, telling the heartwarming tale of a woman finding herself again.
Stealing Home is based in the fictional small town of Serenity, South Carolina, not too far from Charleston. I enjoyed the small-town life detailed in the book. Woods did a good job of balancing the positives against the negatives of small town life. As Maddie’s relationship with baseball coach Cal Maddox develops, the gossips in town raise major backlash at them, threatening both of their careers. There’s a bit of good triumphs over evil in that storyline, with Cal’s job being saved at a public hearing after he expresses his devotion to Maddie. It was a little over the top for my taste, but still sweet nonetheless.
Friendship is a focal point in this novel, as Maddie’s best friends Helen and Dana Sue support her through this trying time in her life. The friendship between the three is quite beautiful, having existed since they were in elementary school. I enjoyed the contrasting personalities of this trio and how well they complemented each other. Helen and Dana Sue’s unwavering support of Maddie is the type of friendship I’d be honored to have. They lent Maddie their confidence when she was shaken up by her husband’s betrayal and helped her figure out what her life should look like. They could be a bit pushy, but I think we all need that at times. I look forward to reading Helen and Dana Sue’s stories in the next books in the series.
I had a bit of trouble connecting with the main character Maddie, but that’s not entirely surprising when I reflect on it. I’m not a mother, nor do I have any desire to be. I have the utmost respect for women who can run a home with three children and promote their husband at the same time, but it’s not a life I envision for myself. In addition, Maddie was incredibly cautious, almost to the point of neurotic, about any decision she made. While I am certainly a risk-averse person, it was sometimes painful to read her waffling over decisions that seemed obvious to me. I think because I didn’t click with her on a personal level, I didn’t extend her the patience that I could have.
My one other gripe occurred in the final chapter. As the first book in a series, I knew there would be hints as to what the next book’s plot would entail. Totally fine; it usually draws me into the next story. This time though, it was too heavy-handed. Instead of being able to join this book’s happy ending, the attention was pulled away to the next book. It left a bitter taste in my mouth to wrap up an otherwise enjoyable read.
To Close the Book
My goal for this read was to end the year with a quick, feel-good novel. Stealing Home did just that! I’m looking forward to continuing the series later this year. Plus, now I have a new Netflix show to add to my queue.
Have you read any of The Sweet Magnolias series? Or watched the Netflix series? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!
Check out my other reviews here.
Has my Stealing Home book review inspired you to read it? Get your copy from Bookshop.org.
From one Wordo to another, thanks for tuning in! See you next time!
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