The New Woman


Okay. To start: Get it, read it, enjoy it!

Now the reasons:

Jon Hassler creates very real places. Take Jan Karon. Yank out a lot of the over-sentimental nonsense. Put in some hard-headed characters in need of some real redemption and work. Move it from the South to Minnesota. Make the main characters Catholic and show faith in real action and you have Jon Hassler's town of Staggerford.

Enter Agatha--main character for a good many of the Staggerford novels--now 87 and moving into an assisted living facility because of a mid-winter pipe-breaking trauma in her own house. Moving in and moving out. Living and loving and accessory to kidnapping, and you name it.

The novel reintroduces the reader (or introduces the reader) to the town of Staggerford and its many inhabitants--most of them not terribly eccentric or odd or notable for their tics and traits. Agatha, ex-principal of St. Isidore's Catholic School, unmarried and mentor to most, if not all of the town. John Beezer, the man who become attracted to the first person who says a kind word to him in new and unplesant circumstances. Lillian, Big Edna, Little Edna, and the entire panoply of those who gather in the support group started for her great-nephew who doesn't attend.

Warm and real and filled with gentle satire, real faith, real people, real incident, real sin, real repentance, real redemption, and real lack of redemption. Not everything works out to the good. Not everything works out for perfect happiness all around. Not everything is laced about with charm and beauty. Disinterments, disappointments, disillusionments, and unfortunately no disbarments.

Read it, and enjoy the simple prose and the real feeling of a small and simple town--complicated in its simple network of relationships and understandings. Jon Hassler has created a real place. Less visited perhaps than some better known, but equally worthy of our attention.

Get it! Read it! I'm certain you'll enjoy it.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 10, 2007 8:02 AM.

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