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Sonoma County Gazette
The protagonists of these novels, Kya and Polly are both resourceful and determined young women.
The protagonists of these novels, Kya and Polly are both resourceful and determined young women.

Two Strong Women

Apr 26, 2019
by Diane McCurdy, Film and Book Reviews


The Little Beach Street Bakery is chick lit and that is not necessarily a pejorative but when the hero spreads honey on the heroine's chest so he can lick it off and the sky bleeds pink and blue, one becomes quite aware of the genre. Scottish author, Jenny Colgan is known for writing romantic comedy fiction and, ironically, she also pens for the Sci-Fi series Dr. Who! 

'Where the Crawdads Sing' is number one on the New York Times best-seller list. Author, Delia Owens, already a respected contributor to naturalist non-fiction has a doctorate from U. C. Davis. Her story is far more layered and nuanced and her prose is elevated and at times even lyrical. However, both ladies give us a protagonist of mettle reminiscent of those steel magnolias. 

Pity poor Polly's plight in the "Bakery" book. The business she was involved in fell victim to the recession and her boyfriend ran home to his mother. Polly is left homeless, jobless, and almost penniless. She bunks for a while with her flamboyant friend, Kerensa, and then rents a dilapidated cabin located on a very, small coastal island that is unreachable at high tide. She eventually uses her skills at baking not only to support herself but to integrate herself into the town's community which includes an odd cast of characters the most interesting of which is a bird, a Puffin called Neil. Looming in the background is a hunky American bee keeper. The whole plot culminates at Kerensa's outrageous Star Wars themed wedding. The first part, when Polly is striving, and surviving is best. The last part descends too far into soap opera with dialog that is way too cute. But as a redemptive bonus, there is an addenda of several pages of recipes. 

Where the Crawdads Sing is a coming of age story, a love story, a courtroom drama and a murder mystery. In Kya , the lead character is a semi-feral , wild child in the marshes of North Carolina when we first meet her. She has been abandoned by her mother and her older siblings and her alcoholic father is mostly absent. The locals further isolate her treating her as something weird and sub-human. Befriended by Tate, a young man who teaches her to read, she is forsaken once again when he leaves for college. Then she is romanced by the town Lothario who tries to rape her. Later his body is found. Did Kya kill him? 

Kya and Polly are both resourceful and determined young ladies. Both are resilient and acutely attuned to the natural world, Polly with her bees and birds and Kya with the denizens of the marsh. Life gave them both lemons and they made lemonade.




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