THE BOOK CHARMER Karen Hawkins
Dove Pond, #1
A Perfect 10
August 2018
General Fiction

Dove Pond, North Carolina - Present Day

The small, friendly town of Dove Pond has the reputation of having great bar-b-que, an Apple Festival that attracts people from all over, and amazing good luck whenever the long-time resident Dove family has seven daughters. Thankfully, there are seven Dove girls these days because, right now, Dove Pond is in dire need of that luck. Will the magic that inhabits each daughter, especially the seventh one, save their hometown?

Sarah Dove is the town librarian, which is a good thing because books "talk" to her, literally. And the one that has talked the most during her lifetime has been the very old book written by, like Sarah, a seventh Dove daughter back in the early 1700s. Strange things are happening in her hometown. Siegfried, a town cat, is doing counterclockwise circles before every store on Main Street. Then Sarah noticed that the flowers in the town planters have been changing colors. They were purple when planted, but every so often they turn different colors. When the town fountain begins   running again after fifty years of it being broken, Sarah knows something is going to happen. She already knows her town is slowly dying, with stores closing, people moving away to find jobs, and a brief glimpse of the latest budget showing that financial issues are going to crush them. So, when Sarah's books tell her that the new town clerk will be important to Dove Pond, she knows she has to act.

Grace Wheeler has had to leave her lucrative, high pressure job in Charlotte and move to Dove Pond where she will be the town clerk for a miserably low salary. But, with the death of her younger sister, Hannah, and having to take over raising Daisy, Hannah's eight-year-old daughter, not to mention caring for her elderly foster mother, Mama G, Grace has moved them to a rental house in Mama G's hometown. The old woman is showing signs of dementia, Daisy is still reeling from losing her mother, despite Hannah's chronic absences, and Grace is coming to terms with being a mother and caregiver. To say she has a chip on her shoulder is putting it mildly. She will stay in town for one year, then move them all to Charlotte where Grace can earn a respectable living. In the meantime, she must deal with a town mayor who puts fishing before Dove Pond, Sarah Dove who is just way too friendly, and a motorcycle riding, macho guy living next door.

Many in the town are well aware that the new town clerk isn't happy to be in Dove Pond. But when she's thrown into the "Social Club" by the mayor to plan the Apple Festival, Grace alienates just about everyone. For Grace has gone over the financial records of the town, and it is on the verge of bankruptcy. Spending money on a, to Grace, frivolous fair just makes no sense. So, she slashes the fair budget and sets the town atwitter. Sarah and others understand, but the one thing that puts Dove Pond on the map is that Apple Festival. How will Sarah and friends manage to convince Grace of its importance? Can the Dove family magic overcome everything that is going wrong? The future of Dove Pond is at stake.

Any book that can make me laugh out loud and wipe tears from my eyes is a darned good book. And THE BOOK CHARMER does it all with its beautifully written prose, enchanting, all-too-human characters, and that bit of magic that only books can transcend to readers. It's a Perfect 10 in every way. Do not miss this delightful novel.

Jani Brooks