One Part Angel

( 2 )

Overview

This big-hearted novel about small-town miracles is the entertaining follow-up to Shaffner’s popular debut, In the Land of Second Chances.

Welcome to Ebb, Nebraska—home of the Corn Palace, the Quilting Circle, the Come Again Bed and Breakfast, and Wilma Porter and her indomitable gang of friends. Loretta Parsons, Wilma’s best friend and the owner of the Bold Cut Beauty Salon, called the town “the Last Oasis of Nice.”And it is.

But Ebb also has ...

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Overview

This big-hearted novel about small-town miracles is the entertaining follow-up to Shaffner’s popular debut, In the Land of Second Chances.

Welcome to Ebb, Nebraska—home of the Corn Palace, the Quilting Circle, the Come Again Bed and Breakfast, and Wilma Porter and her indomitable gang of friends. Loretta Parsons, Wilma’s best friend and the owner of the Bold Cut Beauty Salon, called the town “the Last Oasis of Nice.”And it is.

But Ebb also has more than its share of troubles. Loretta is in a coma and her salon is burned to the ground. Wilma’s grandson, Matt, is in the county jail awaiting sentencing for arson and attempted murder. Clem Tucker, the richest man in town, is cooking up a business deal that could have dire consequences for everyone. Even the powerful Quilting Circle,
which includes almost every woman in Ebb, is at its wit’s end.

Wilma’s prayers for help are answered when the mysterious traveling salesman Mr.Vernon Moore returns to save the day . . . and a life or two while he’s at it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A fun read . . . quirky, inspirational.”
–The Seattle Times

“Delightful explorations of small-town life.”
–The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“A story in the tradition of Jan Karon’s Mitford series, albeit with a zanier cast of characters.”
–School Library Journal

“Shaffner provides engaging characters, quick-witted dialogue, and some very dry Nebraska wisdom.”
–Lincoln Journal Star

“Readers who liked Shaffner’s first escapist Ebb adventure, In the Land of Second Chances, will enjoy this sequel.”
–The Boston Globe

“Uproarious and uplifting.”
–Booklist

Publishers Weekly
Vernon Moore, the mysterious salesman who upended everyone's lives in the quaint town of Ebb, Nebr., in Shaffner's first novel (In the Land of Second Chances) returns to save the day in this enchanting sequel. Once again, feisty Wilma Porter, owner of Come Again Bed & Breakfast, narrates an improbable tale full of miracles, humor, tragedy and a strong dose of religion and morality. Vernon finds all not well in Ebb: Wilma's grandson, Matthew, is in the county jail, refusing to name the two accomplices who destroyed the local hair salon and bludgeoned owner Loretta Parsons into a coma. Loretta happens to be Wilma's best friend, the town's only resident of color and, not incidentally, the mother of Vernon's out-of-wedlock child. Meanwhile, Wilma's "Fianc in Perpetuity," wealthy business entrepreneur Clem Tucker, is raising eyebrows around town with the parceling and sale of his inherited farm. Vernon's interactions with the recalcitrant Matt shine; his confrontation with the menacing founders of a local religious sect is both chilling and gratifying; and his "win-win" impact on the financial future of the town comes as no surprise. Ebb's warm-and-fuzzyness is well realized, and readers will keep reading in the hope of learning who Vernon really is. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Wilma Porter runs a bed-and-breakfast in Ebb, NE, and thinks she has her finger on the pulse of the town. When her grandson and two unidentified high-school friends beat the black owner of the beauty parlor into a coma, Wilma and the rest of the citizenry are stunned out of their small-town complacency. Enter Vernon Moore, a mysterious traveling salesman who made his debut in Shaffner's In the Land of Second Chances (Algonquin, 2004). Mr. Moore has a gift for seeing problems from a different perspective, and the townspeople quickly realize that they need a dose of his quirky wisdom. While he may be "one part angel," as several seeming miracles would indicate, he's plenty human: last time he came through town, he fathered a daughter with the now-comatose Loretta. He therefore has a vested interest in trying to persuade Matt to name his accomplices. This is a story in the tradition of Jan Karon's "Mitford" series (Viking), albeit with a zanier cast of characters. From wealthy financier Clem Tucker to the sinister Reverend Gault of the Divine Temple of the Everlasting God Almighty to Dot Hrnicek, Ebb's first female sheriff, there is no shortage of eccentricities. Shaffner's character sketches, along with Wilma's chatty narrative style, keep Mr. Moore from seeming too didactic as he points the townsfolk toward solutions for their various problems. Teens will appreciate the unorthodox approach that he takes in building a relationship with Matt, as well as the glimpse into the stories underneath the wholesome small-town veneer.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A mysterious visitor returns to a small Nebraska town and turns around its people's lives. A sequel to Shaffner's In the Land of Second Chances (2004), this novel is told from the point of view of Wilma Porter, owner of the Come Again Bed and Breakfast in Ebb, Neb. As the story opens, Wilma describes how her friend Loretta Parsons, the only black woman in Ebb, was attacked and beaten into a coma by three young masked men, who then vandalized and torched her beauty salon. One of the perpetrators was identified as Wilma's grandson, Matt Breck, who refused to name his accomplices despite the offer of a shortened jail sentence. Almost every position of importance in Ebb is filled by a woman; the town's de facto governing body is the Quilting Circle. The one exception is Clem Tucker, Wilma's fiance and the richest man in town, who is negotiating a major deal that he expects to change the balance of power in the county. Wilma, believing that only Vernon Moore can save her grandson, prays for his return; almost before she knows it, he appears, in a white Chrysler, wearing a thousand-dollar suit. Soon he is working his quiet magic, the first clear example of which is Loretta's unexpectedly recovering consciousness. Moore quickly wins over almost everyone he meets, although Matt resists him at first. But with a combination of the Socratic method, torture by excessive kindness and banjo playing, he breaks down the boy's resistance. At the same time, he convinces Tucker and the Quilting Circle to come to an accommodation, and finds the real villain behind the beating and arson. While many of the plot twists border on the fantastic, Shaffner's style is folksy and gently humorous. Warm-heartediconoclasm.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345484994
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 2/27/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 996,467
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

GEORGE SHAFFNER is the author of In the Land of Second Chances and One Part Angel. He lives in Sammamish, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Back in the Soup

You may remember me; my name is Wilma Porter. I own the Come Again Bed and Breakfast, which is the last B & B in Ebb, Nebraska, and the only one in Rutherford B. Hayes County that is recommended by nine Internet directories. Some time ago, I wrote to you about our local troubles and how they were fixed by an unusual lodger of mine, a man named Vernon L. Moore. Well, a lot has changed since he left, meaning we’re right back in the soup.

On the second Saturday of last September, the Bold Cut Beauty Salon was vandalized and set afire by three young men in ski masks. Loretta Parsons, the owner of the salon, Ebb’s sole resident black person and my best friend, was beaten into a coma, which broke my heart, and that’s not all. Before she lost consciousness, Loretta managed to say a few words to Dot Hrnicek, our county sheriff, about the sweater of one of her assailants. A fiber underneath one of Lo’s fingernails subsequently revealed the identity of its owner: none other than Matthew Breck, my grandson. Did I tell you that my heart was broken?

The next thing we knew, Matt was sitting in the county jail awaiting sentencing for two counts of attempted murder, one count of first- degree arson, and a long list of lesser offenses that added up to 150 years in prison—if Loretta lived. Then “Hail Mary” Wade, the county attorney, offered him a plea bargain, but only if he would name his two accomplices.

As I live and breathe, Matt wouldn’t do it. Hail Mary couldn’t convince him to spill the beans; Dottie couldn’t either. He wouldn’t say word one to his mama or me. Clem Tucker, who is the richest man in southeast Nebraska and my Fiancé in Perpetuity, hired a big-time criminal lawyer from Chicago, but even he couldn’t get through to that boy. Meanwhile, his mama was sobbing herself to sleep every night, Loretta was not getting any better, and two of her assailants were running free, which frightened everybody.

Loretta used to call our town the Last Oasis of Nice, but we were in deep, deep trouble and there was nowhere else to turn, so I got down on my knees and asked the Lord to send Vernon Moore back to help us one more time. I’m still not sure I believe what happened next. I didn’t bear witness to every pot he stirred myself but, with the help of the Quilting Circle network, my fiancé, and a few of my men friends—plus a peek or two at some police transcripts—I finally managed to piece it all together.

You’ll have to come to your own conclusions.

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

1. What does the title One Part Angel mean to you? Which characters in this book could be aptly described by the book’s title?

2. Why do you think that George Shaffner begins this book in media res–that is, in the middle of things? In your opinion, what was the most surprising thing that had happened in Ebb since Vernon Moore had left town? How is the town changed? How is it still an “oasis of nice”?

3. Why do you think Vernon returns to Ebb so unexpectedly? Do you think that the townspeople were awaiting his return? What do you think is Vernon’s most admirable quality? How is he otherworldly? In which ways is he a typical man?

4. On page 87, Vernon says, “Between here and history, chance is all there is.” What do you think he means by that assertion? How do the events that unfold in the book support that statement? How do you think this forms a theme of the book?

5. Why do you think that Wilma waits for her “perpetual fiancŽ,” Clem Tucker? Why do you think Clem elects to sell off his holdings in the town? What do you think his master plan for the town might be? Do you think the Quilting Circle’s opinion of him changes from the beginning of this book to its conclusion? How about Wilma’s attitude toward Clem?

6. Vernon sets out to teach Matt a code of conduct. How does he succeed in doing so? Can you give an example from your own life of how adherence to a code of conduct can make the world a better place?

7. Vernon Moore describes belief as the gray area between fact and delusion. Do you agree or disagree with this definition? How does reliance on belief spur problems in the town of Ebb? In the world today?

8. How do Matt’s mother and grandmother cope with his actions toward Loretta? How are their coping mechanisms similar and different? How about Mark’s reaction to his family’s tumult? How are the two brothers different? What do you expect to see from them both in the future?

9. In which ways is Matt a typical teenager? What about Reverend Gault’s religion might appeal to Matt? How is Reverend Gault himself an imposing figure? How is he easily ridiculed

10. At first, Matt refuses to disclose his accomplices in the attack on the Bold Cut because he wants to protect “me and mine.” How does this noble impulse have bad ramifications? What do you think you would do in a similar situation?

11. One of the questions Vernon asks Matt is whether life is an individual sport, a team sport, or both. How would you answer this question? How does the answer to this question inform Matt’s own actions–and more broadly, how does it inform world events?

12. When Loretta comes back from the dead, the town regards Vernon as a miracle worker. What is your opinion of how she is revived? Do you think that Vernon would ever come back to stay with her and Laverne? Why or why not?

13. Vernon says that strength requires selflessness (page 288). Describe how different characters in this novel display strength in the face of adversity. How do those who are strong also display courage and intellect?

14. Do you think that the Quilting Circle makes the right decision by buying part of the store, but not of the bank? What do you think prompts their choice? How does the Quilting Circle function as a business entity within the town? How does it form an informal governing body of Ebb?

15. At the end of the book, Vernon says that the “chickens are coming home to roost.” In your opinion, does everyone get what he or she deserves at the novel’s conclusion? Were you surprised by anything that transpired?

16. George Shaffner has said that this is the second in a three-book series. From the conclusion of this book, what do you imagine will be front and center in the next novel? Which characters do you most want to hear more about?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2006

    A most worthy sequel

    Vernon Moore is back, and boy is he needed. Once again, he is being asked to deal with one of life's hardest problems--in this case 'the good kid gone bad', Wilma's grandson Matt, the archtype of the alienated, non-communicative, angry teenager who has done something both henious and inexplicable, namely participating in the senseless beating of his grandmother's best friend, his mother's employer, and the woman Vernon loves. While Loretta lies in a coma, Vernon sets to work on Matt, pulling humor, common sense, role playing, bad banjo playing, circular foods, and lots of patience out of his bag of tricks. In the end, Matt understands the difference between being strong and being smart and is able to exercise some charity, for himself, the other perpetrators of the crime, and for his family. Ever the multi-tasker, Vernon renews his sparring with Clem, the richest man in three counties, who is once again involved in a mysterious business deal that has the potential of destroying Ebb, placing Wilma uncomfortably smack in the middle between the Quilting Circle spoiling for a fight and her 'fiance of perpetuity'. As if that isn't enough, Vernon also crosses swords with the Reverend Gault, the mysterious and sinister leader of a uber religious cult that has taken up residence near town. Once again, Shaffner deals with a most difficult delimma with humor, wit, and sound argument. This is a must read for all parents whose teenagers seem to have suddenly been replaced by pod people with an attitude. Actuallty, it's a must read for anyone who enjoys an entertaining page turner that actually makes you think. 'One Part Angel' is a delightful sequel to 'In the Land of Second Chances' and treats the reader to the same level of humor, quirky characters, and surprising twists and turns. By the end, Vernon has performed his magic, and Ebb and its residents are safe once more. And, as Vernon disappears over the horizon in his muscle car de jour, the residents are left shaking their heads and doing their best impression of 'who was that masked man?'. Some clues are offered in this book, but guess we'll have to wait until the third in the series to find out.

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    Posted November 8, 2008

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