South of Superior

South of Superior

4.0 40
by Ellen Airgood
     
 

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A debut novel full of heart, in which love, friendship, and charity teach a young woman to live a bigger life.

When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change.

Charged with caring for an aging…  See more details below

Overview

A debut novel full of heart, in which love, friendship, and charity teach a young woman to live a bigger life.

When Madeline Stone walks away from Chicago and moves five hundred miles north to the coast of Lake Superior, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, she isn't prepared for how much her life will change.

Charged with caring for an aging family friend, Madeline finds herself in the middle of beautiful nowhere with Gladys and Arbutus, two octogenarian sisters-one sharp and stubborn, the other sweeter than sunshine. As Madeline begins to experience the ways of the small, tight-knit town, she is drawn into the lives and dramas of its residents. It's a place where times are tough and debts run deep, but friendship, community, and compassion run deeper. As the story hurtles along-featuring a lost child, a dashed love, a car accident, a wedding, a fire, and a romantic reunion-Gladys, Arbutus, and the rest of the town teach Madeline more about life, love, and goodwill than she's learned in a lifetime.

A heartwarming novel, South of Superior explores the deep reward in caring for others, and shows how one who is poor in pocket can be rich in so many other ways, and how little it often takes to make someone happy.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Airgood's charming yet uninspired debut, Madeline Stone takes a job caring for Gladys Hansen, the final companion of the grandfather she never knew, and Gladys's ailing sister in McAllaster, Mich. On the north coast of Lake Superior she finds "a wide, wild quiet, so spacious it seemed endless, and she wondered how it might change a person." Gladys, the younger, feistier of the two sisters, is desperate to hold onto the old ways even as modern life becomes too obvious to ignore. She's the bad cop to her sister's good, and Madeline finds it hard to adjust to her meanness. She also finds it discomfiting when locals comment on her resemblance to ancestors she never knew, and Gladys is less than forthcoming about the Stone family history. To help fill her days, Madeline takes a part-time job at the local pizzeria and becomes close to Paul, the owner, who has financial woes of his own. Over time, Madeline and Gladys make peace, and old secrets are revealed. An abandoned child that Madeline takes in finally allows Airgood to address her prevailing theme—the true nature of family. (June)
Kirkus Reviews

Madeline Stone goes back to her roots in rural Michigan and finds the missing bits of herself, in a heartwarming if drawn-out debut.

Matching pace to place, there's little urgency either in Airgood's novel or in McAllaster, the small town on the shore of Lake Superior for which 35-year-old Madeline impulsively, implausibly gives up life, work and a fiancé in Chicago. The reason given is to take care of sweet, elderly Arbutus and her cranky sister Gladys, who had been the "good friend" of Joe, Madeline's grandfather. When Madeline's druggie young mother abandoned her illegitimate baby, Joe could have taken the child in, but he refused, and Madeline was brought up by a kind stranger whose long, recently concluded battle with cancer has equipped her for taking care of the elderly. Finding friends, a little family and the attractive owner of the pizza parlor in McAllaster, Madeline also develops an ambition to take over Gladys' and Arbutus' decayed but lovely old hotel. Airgood uses scattered events (a court case, a fire, a traffic accident) to point out community values, the long play of rural history and therapeutic, neighborly good deeds. More sensitive, less sugary than similar books in the genre, this combination of romance and self-discovery ends, unsurprisingly, in a tidy, happy place.

Pleasant and comforting, like Gladys' cardamom rolls.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781101535233
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/09/2011
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
278,246
File size:
365 KB
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Connie May Fowler
“A story that is peculiarly American, brimming with lessons about compassion and community. South of Superior is not to be forgotten.”--(Connie May Fowler, author of Before Women Had Wings)
Philip Caputo
“An unsentimental but warm-hearted view of life in an isolated Michigan town. Reminiscent of Richard Russo, South of Superior is an engaging tale told with wit and charm.”--(Philip Caputo)
Beth Hoffman
“South of Superior is a charming story where hardships forge character, friendships endure for decades, and love unfolds in unusual ways. Most of all it is a celebration of the ever-surprising strengths of the human spirit.”--(Beth Hoffman, New York Times–bestselling author of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt)
Lesley Kagan
“"I was captivated by Ms. Airgood’s setting and her characters, they’re pitch pefect. South of Superior is a wonderful debut novel. I couldn’t get the story out of my mind even weeks after I put it down. It was that haunting, that heartfelt. Brava!”--(Lesley Kagan, author of Whistling in the Dark)
Tiffany Baker
“A heartfelt ode to the simpler things in life. You’ll be delighted and embraced by the strong willed characters and the small town setting and when you’re finished you’ll want to go embrace the people in your own circle.”--(Tiffany Baker, author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County)

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Meet the Author

Ellen Airgood runs a diner in Grand Marais, Michigan. This is her first novel.

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