When I received a review copy of STELLA & MARGIE I was a bit hesitant, assuming it was a rural romance, not my favourite genre. However, the synopsis looked interesting so I started reading… And I am SO glad I did.
It became one of my favourites within a very few pages.
Stella and Margie are daughter-in-law and mother-in-law and two more different women it would be hard to find. Margie, in her early 80s, is country born and bred, prickly, self-absorbed and very conservative.
Stella, a city girl originally, is kind, compassionate, disorganised and somewhat flamboyant – a product of her city life, a strained relationship with her mother, and a theatrical background.
She met and married Margie’s son, Ross, sacrificed her career and city life and moved to the country property which his family had owned for several generations .. and, of course, which was originally Margie’s territory.
Meantime, Margie, as was customary, relinquished her old home to Ross and his bride and moved into an apartment.
Glenn Thomson, author of this book, has experienced life on a property very similar to that described and she has shared, as Stella does, the duties of helping during calving and other chores involved in farm life. (Although she does admit that now she is a full-time author, she can escape most of them!)
The book is told through the eyes of both Margie and Stella and we view the same events through their personal perspective. I found myself empathising in some instances with both. Margie, who has had major surgery, has to stay with Ross and his family to recuperate.. and bitterly resents that and their whole lifestyle. Stella, who has retained her theatrical interests, has written a play depicting the life of her own mother and is desperate to gain a grant which will allow their local theatrical group to perform it.
She is torn between the time she needs for this, the time it takes to care for Margie, to take her to medical appointments and the need to help on the farm. An added complication is Ross’s resentment of his mother, the result of long ago childhood tragedy. This leads to an unusual tension between Ross and Stella, who feels he should be more sympathetic.
Margie disapproves of their lifestyle, the way their two daughters are being reared and constantly finds things to criticise. However, she is somewhat cheered by discovering that one of the actors involved in the proposed production is someone with whom she had a warm relationship in the past.
Old secrets emerge, past pains and disappointments are relived and in the course of all this, the relationship between the two women grows as Margie mellows.
Glenna speaks fondly of both women and I was surprised and delighted at how well she was able to capture and understand their respective attitudes.
She told us she is 62 herself, sp perhaps is able to look both forward and back to gain this wisdom. The ending was a satisfactory one, without it being turned into a sentimental grand finale.
Glenna is working on her next book and I will be very anxious to read it.
Meantime, I do highly recommend this one.
STELLA AND MARGIE by GLENNA THOMSON