The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them

The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them

3.7 43
by Amy Dickinson
     
 

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Five years ago, after an exhaustive countrywide search, the Chicago Tribune announced Amy Dickinson as the next Ann Landers. They wanted a contemporary voice and they found it. Bracingly witty and honest, Amy's voice is more Nora Ephron than Dear Abby. Readers love her for her brutal honesty, her small-town values, and for the fact that her motto is "I

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Overview

Five years ago, after an exhaustive countrywide search, the Chicago Tribune announced Amy Dickinson as the next Ann Landers. They wanted a contemporary voice and they found it. Bracingly witty and honest, Amy's voice is more Nora Ephron than Dear Abby. Readers love her for her brutal honesty, her small-town values, and for the fact that her motto is "I make the mistakes so you don't have to." Her advice column, "Ask Amy," appears daily in more than 150 newspapers nationwide, read by more than 22 million readers.

In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson takes those mistakes and spins them into a remarkable story. This is the tale of Amy and her daughter and the women in her family who helped raise them after Amy's husband abruptly left. It is a story of frequent failures and surprising successes, as Amy starts and loses careers, bumbles through blind dates and adult education classes, travels across country with her daughter and their giant tabby cat, and tries to come to terms with the family's aptitude for "dorkitude." Though they live in London, D.C., and Chicago, all roads lead them back to her original hometown of Freeville (pop. 458), a tiny upstate village where Amy's family has tilled and cultivated the land, tended chickens and Holsteins, and built houses and backyard sheds for over 200 years. Most important though, her family has made more family there, and they all still live in a ten-house radius of each other. With kindness and razor-sharp wit, they welcome Amy and her daughter back weekend after weekend, summer after summer, offering a moving testament to the many women who have led small lives of great consequence in a tiny place.

About the Author
AMY DICKINSON is the author of the syndicated advice column "Ask Amy," which appears in more than 150 newspapers nationwide, and the host of a biweekly feature on NPR's "Talk of the Nation." Formerly a columnist for Time magazine, she lives in Chicago.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

"I didn't become an advice columnist on purpose," writes Dickinson (author of the syndicated column "Ask Amy") in her chapter titled "Failing Up." In the summertime of 2002, after spending months living off of her credit cards between freelance writing jobs, Dickinson sent in an audition column to the Chicago Tribune and became the paper's replacement for the late Ann Landers. Here, Dickinson traces her own personal history, as well as the history of her mother's family whose members make up the "Mighty Queens" of Freeville, N.Y., the small town where Dickinson was raised, and where she raised her own daughter between stints in London; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago. Dickinson writes with an honesty that is at once folksy and intelligent, and brings to life all of the struggles of raising a child (Dickinson was a single mother) and the challenges and rewards of having a supportive extended family. "I'm surrounded by people who are not impressed with me," Dickinson humorously laments. "They don't care that my syndicated column has twenty-two million readers." Dickinson's irresistible memoir reads like a letter from an upbeat best friend. (Feb.)

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Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Amy Dickinson, the "Ask Amy" syndicated advice columnist, serves up a sustaining slice of life in this warm-hearted memoir about her small-town roots. Through divorce, single motherhood and a variety of jobs, Amy knows she can count on her family of largely women, the so-called "Mighty Queens," for love, support and common sense. And so though she may live in London, Washington, DC, or Chicago, she keeps heading home to Freeville, New York (population: 458) with her growing daughter for long weekends, holidays and summers. Amy reflects on her life with wit and good humor and shares with the reader much of the good advice she has received from others. My favorite tidbit comes from her work as a nursery school teacher when toddlers taught her "to be in the moment, to play with abandon, to nap when you need to, and to preserve your friendships by saying ‘I'm sorry' when necessary." Amy is quick to give thanks throughout for the strong, kind women in her life. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
Kirkus Reviews
In a gutsy debut memoir about family, resolve and the secret of survival, farm girl turned advice columnist Dickinson plows to the root of her down-to-earth American know-how. The straight-shooting successor to Ann Landers, Dickinson's previous claims to fame include the community auction of household possessions to square a debt accrued by her absent father, teaching Sunday school, harboring Holsteins and mastering single motherhood. In the late 1980s, Dickinson's adulterous, soon-to-be-ex-husband walked out on her, and she recoiled to her banal hometown of Freeville, N.Y., with toddler daughter Emily. Dejected, fond of therapeutic cigarette smoking in the tub, she was steadily buttressed by patient pillars of female kin and finally traded the bathroom for a fresh start in Washington, D.C. Like a quarterback reacting to a testy defensive line, she called snap plays for first dates, odd jobs, solo parenting, disastrous home repairs and pet surgery. Hectic yet reflective, Dickinson's mind constantly searched for life lessons in her mistakes while pondering how to present these aberrations as worldly insights to her daughter-a thought process which now endears 22 million readers daily to her column, "Ask Amy." Real-life situations were forever testing her, from damage control after a high-school choir accident to the humiliating Laura Ingalls Wilder Halloween costume. Regardless, Dickinson's crisis-filled playbook had two constants: candor and Freeville coaching. No fumble was without its rewards according to Freeville women, portrayed here as resilient blends of Marmee March and Calamity Jane. An unabashed, self-pity-free, landmine-filled love letter to a rocky past, credited for theauthor's current success and happiness. Author tour to Boston, Charlotte, N.C., Chicago, Cincinnati, Dayton, Ohio, New Orleans, New York, Raleigh, N.C., San Francisco, St. Louis, Washington, D.C. Agent: Elyse Cheney/Elyse Cheney Literary Associates
Adriana Trigiani
"Common sense, a practical nature, and a searing sense of social justice are the hallmarks of Amy Dickinson's advice column. Now, in a delicious and hilarious memoir, Amy gives us her worldview via Main Street with wit and originality, through her own bejeweled binoculars. The view is never, for a moment, self-indulgent. She's a wise and fair queen for sure. Long Live Amy!"
Laura Zigman
"The Mighty Queens of Freeville is great American storytelling at its best. A tale of promise postponed and scrappy survival, Amy Dickinson's glorious triumphs are like rabbits pulled out of a hat, one after another after another. Full of hope and humor and big simple truths, it is a story told with grace and without a trace of cynicism. This is a book you will love and one you will be truly sad to finish."
Noah Adams
"Reading Amy's book in bed. Wife to me: 'Is it good?' Me to wife: 'Sure, but what do I care, I'm a guy' Wife to me: 'Then why are you crying?'"
Peter Sagal
"In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson shares her life story about love and loss, parents, daughters, aunts, fathers, pets, and life from the mundane to the ridiculous to the quietly heartbreaking. Or, sometimes loudly heartbreaking, with great big honking sobs. Amy doesn't have all the answers, but she suggests a good place to find them: at home, with the people who love you."
From the Publisher
"The Mighty Queens of Freeville is great American storytelling at its best. A tale of promise postponed and scrappy survival, Amy Dickinson's glorious triumphs are like rabbits pulled out of a hat, one after another after another. Full of hope and humor and big simple truths, it is a story told with grace and without a trace of cynicism. This is a book you will love and one you will be truly sad to finish."—Laura Zigman, author of Animal Husbandry"

Reading Amy's book in bed. Wife to me: 'Is it good?' Me to wife: 'Sure, but what do I care, I'm a guy' Wife to me: 'Then why are you crying?'"—Noah Adams, author of Piano Lessons"

In The Mighty Queens of Freeville, Amy Dickinson shares her life story about love and loss, parents, daughters, aunts, fathers, pets, and life from the mundane to the ridiculous to the quietly heartbreaking. Or, sometimes loudly heartbreaking, with great big honking sobs. Amy doesn't have all the answers, but she suggests a good place to find them: at home, with the people who love you."—Peter Sagal, host of NPR's "Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" and author of The Book of Vice: Naughty Things (and How to Do Them)"

Common sense, a practical nature, and a searing sense of social justice are the hallmarks of Amy Dickinson's advice column. Now, in a delicious and hilarious memoir, Amy gives us her worldview via Main Street with wit and originality, through her own bejeweled binoculars. The view is never, for a moment, self-indulgent. She's a wise and fair queen for sure. Long Live Amy!"—Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of the Big Stone Gap series, Lucia, Lucia, and Very Valentine

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781410414748
Publisher:
Gale Group
Publication date:
04/01/2009
Pages:
273
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.60(h) x 1.00(d)

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