The Sweetest Thing [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Singleton family's fortunes seem unaffected by the Great Depression, and Perri--along with the other girls at Atlanta's elite Washington Seminary--lives a carefree life of tea dances with college boys, matinees at the cinema, and debut parties. But when tragedies strike, Perri is confronted with a world far different from the one she has always known.

At the insistence of her parents, Mary "Dobbs" Dillard, the daughter of an itinerant ...
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The Sweetest Thing

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Overview

The Singleton family's fortunes seem unaffected by the Great Depression, and Perri--along with the other girls at Atlanta's elite Washington Seminary--lives a carefree life of tea dances with college boys, matinees at the cinema, and debut parties. But when tragedies strike, Perri is confronted with a world far different from the one she has always known.

At the insistence of her parents, Mary "Dobbs" Dillard, the daughter of an itinerant preacher, is sent from inner-city Chicago to live with her aunt and attend Washington Seminary, bringing confrontation and radical ideas. Her arrival intersects at the point of Perri's ultimate crisis, and the tragedy forges an unlikely friendship.

The Sweetest Thing tells the story of two remarkable young women--opposites in every way--fighting for the same goal: surviving tumultuous change.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

With the Great Depression swirling all around them, the affluent Singletons remain affluent. The fictional family, last seen in Elizabeth Musser's The Swan House, continues their carefree life with its rounds of dances and socials and afternoons out at the cinema. Into this protected bubble drops Mary "Dobbs" Dillard, a minister's daughter with radical ideas. Her improbable intersection with Perri Singleton at Atlanta's prestigious Washington Seminary changes both their lives and shows that the chemistry of opposites can sometimes cause awe-inspiring results. A faith-based novel with resonance.

Publishers Weekly
Novelist Musser (The Swan House) returns with this story of Mary Dobbs Dillard and Perri Singleton, teenage girls in Atlanta during the 1930s who form a close friendship as they deal with tragedy, heartbreak, and the Depression. Musser's historical research and love for her setting show through on every page, and her competent writing provides readers with a tightly plotted story, though the pacing of the second half is more satisfying than the first. Her characters, however, shine less than their setting; at their worst they are predictable and slightly flat, and even at best they can be overly precious and melodramatic, especially Mary Dobbs, whose Christian faith is emphasized so strongly that it borders on self-righteousness and makes her later crisis of faith seem contrived. Musser also pushes her theme of God's mercy and providence rather heavy-handedly, but despite these flaws, the novel boasts an engaging mystery subplot and satisfying conclusion, and thus should please fans of her previous work. (June)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441232328
  • Publisher: Baker Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/1/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 123,201
  • File size: 811 KB

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Musser is the author of seven novels, including the bestselling The Swan House. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, she and her husband currently reside near Lyon, France.
Elizabeth Musser, an Atlanta native, lives in southern France with her husband and their two sons. Her acclaimed novel, The Swan House, was a Book Sense bestseller list in the Southeast and was selected as one of the top Christian books for 2001 by Amazon's editors. Searching for Eternity is her sixth novel. Visit Elizabeth's website at www.elizabethmusser.com
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Read an Excerpt

The Sweetest Thing


By Elizabeth Musser

Bethany House Publishers

Copyright © 2011 Elizabeth Musser
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7642-0831-7


Chapter One

Perri

I met Dobbs on the day my world fell apart. It was 1933 and most everyone else's world in the good ol' United States of America had fallen apart years ago. But I had survived virtually unscathed for four years. The Depression, as far as I could tell, had hardly invaded my niche of paradise.

And then it came to a screeching halt, along with Herbert Hoover— on the last day of his presidency. The banks died, and so did my world.

It didn't start off as a terrible day. In fact, it felt as if there was electricity in the air. I slept in late that Saturday—I had gone to a fraternity party over at Georgia Tech the night before, and I was worn out. Mamma woke me at ten, as I'd asked, and after gobbling down my grits and eggs, I joined my whole family in the dining room, where our radio sat perched on the buffet.

The announcers were in a ruckus of excitement, describing the scene there in Washington, D.C. "There are crowds and crowds here stretching across ten acres of lawn and pavement, all awaiting the president-elect...."

Mamma and Daddy and my younger siblings, Barbara and Irvin, and I scooted as close as we could to the radio. Jimmy and Dellareen, our servants, were there, too, with their five children. Mamma had invited them over on that Saturday—they usually only worked for us on the weekdays—to hear Mr. Roosevelt being sworn in.

It was as if America were holding her breath, waiting to see if maybe this new president could save us from ourselves. I felt a nervous anticipation and Mamma kept her society smile plastered on her face, but Daddy did not try to hide his dark mood. That very morning, March 4, 1933, every last bank in America had closed its doors, and Daddy was a banker. The country was afraid—or maybe terrified was a better word.

As we waited for the speech to begin, Mamma went over to Daddy and pecked him on the cheek. "Holden, I believe Mr. Roosevelt is going to get us back on track."

"It's too late, Dot" was Daddy's reply.

Typical, I thought, irritated that he might spoil the drama of the moment. I guess Daddy had every reason to be pessimistic. As one of the heads at Georgia Trust Bank, he looked at the economic situation with little hope for a miracle cure—no more reliable than the fancy elixirs that Jacobs' Drugstore proposed at the soda fountain.

"He's simply a charmer, that Mr. Roosevelt," Daddy said to Mamma. "He's never said one practical thing about how he is going to change things. His speeches are optimistic rhetoric with a little humor mixed in. No one knows the man."

Mamma patted Daddy's hand and gave a little shrug. We could hear music in the background, and every once in a while the announcer cut away to a commercial about Coca-Cola or Sears and Roebuck Company or Haverty's Furniture. Finally it was time for the new president to speak. Dellareen hushed up two of her little boys who were squabbling on the floor. I sat on the dining room table, my feet propped in Irvin's lap, and no one told me to get down.

I think we were all praying for a miracle. Everybody in the United States needed a miracle. Bankers and servants and everybody in between. Republicans and Democrats, old people and young. Personally I was happy to see Herbert Hoover leave office. I'd had enough of "Hoovervilles" and a hundred other things we had mocked the poor president for. The thought of change excited me.

Mr. Roosevelt's voice crackled across the radio lines, and we all leaned forward a little more.

... This great nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance....

We all listened, enraptured—except perhaps for Daddy—by the voice of Mr. Roosevelt, his paternal tone reassuring, confident, pronouncing words I thought could produce miracles.

"And he embodied that strength and optimism by pulling himself out of the wheelchair and making his shriveled-up legs walk across the stage to the podium," the announcer ranted after the speech ended.

I hoped that the new president's speech had buoyed dear Daddy's spirits. I had watched his mood grow more and more morose over recent months. My father often confided in me—things about his business, which I found fascinating. But lately he'd spent a lot of time alone in his study, and the night before I had overheard him arguing with Mamma about the banks closing.

Mamma had a positive outlook on life, which helped soothe my brooding father. His moods were as dark as his hair—hair that was black without a trace of gray. I thought it odd that my father, so often melancholic, looked young and vital, while Mamma had rings under her pretty green eyes, and her dark blond hair needed dyeing every other month, an extravagance that we had never thought extravagant until Daddy had come home the month before angry and forbidden poor Mamma to go to the beauty parlor.

Mamma was resourceful and figured out a way to get her hair cut and dyed on her own—Dellareen knew lots about fixing white ladies' hair. I'd watched Dellareen preparing her concoction and hoped to heavens it worked, so my Atlanta friends wouldn't think that the Singleton family had fallen on hard times.

That Saturday in early March, Mr. Roosevelt had soothed the nation with his words, and I actually felt hopeful. I had friends, parties to attend, and dates galore, and now the new president was somehow going to fix the nation's economy. And the banks. Oh, please, the banks, especially Daddy's.

"Perri, I'd really like for you to go with me to the train station in a little while," Mamma said after lunch. Irvin had scooted out to play baseball with friends at the park, Barbara was over at her friend Lulu's house, and Daddy had retired to his study.

I wanted to walk down the street to see my friend Mae Pearl and ask her what she thought of Roosevelt's speech. I made a face. "Aw, Mom. Why?"

"Josephine Chandler is going to pick up her niece who's arriving from Chicago. She'll be staying at the Chandlers' for the rest of the year and is going to attend Washington Seminary."

"Starting school now—in March?"

"I think her family's come on hard times, and Mrs. Chandler has offered for the girl to live with her and get an education."

Everyone has fallen on hard times, I thought, a little frustrated with Mamma for ruining my afternoon plans. But this girl was lucky. The Chandlers lived in the biggest house in the neighborhood and had parties almost every week in the summer, and loads of girls I knew would have given up iced tea in August to spend time in the Chandler home.

"Holden, we're gonna take the Buick to the Chandlers'," Mamma called back to Daddy. He must have grunted his approval because the next thing I knew we were driving down Wesley Road toward Peachtree in Daddy's two-door Buick Victory Coupe. Daddy was so proud of that car that he hardly ever let Mamma drive.

He's in a good mood on account of Mr. Roosevelt, I thought.

Mamma, always a little nervous behind the wheel, made me nervous, too, but I tried not to show it. Mrs. Chandler was waiting for us, her driver ready to take us in the Pierce Arrow convertible to the train station. Oh, it was an elegant car! She climbed in the front passenger seat, and Mamma and I huddled together in the back as the breeze of early spring tousled our hair, lifting and twirling it like new leaves on a dogwood tree.

"Her name is Mary Dobbs Dillard. She's sixteen or seventeen and will be in your class at school, Perri." Mrs. Chandler turned in her seat to speak to us, and her perfectly coiffed hair blew slightly in the wind. "I hadn't seen her in years, and then I went up to Chicago last fall and found her there with my brother and his wife and their other children in a very difficult situation. I insisted she come down here. She's quite intelligent and deserves a good education.

"My brother, Billy, bless his soul, he means well. All kinds of benevolent ideas to help others, but it seemed to me like his family was starving while he handed out his charity. I wanted the two younger sisters to come as well, but Billy's wife, Ginnie, said they were too young to live away from home."

I pictured Mrs. Chandler's niece in my mind—skinny, hollow-eyed, meek, hungry—and imagined that Mrs. Chandler's brother looked something like the subject of the masterful photograph by Dorothea Lange—my heroine in those years—called "White Angel Breadline." It showed a group of beat-up men, old-looking but probably not old, waiting in a breadline, and it focused on one man, facing the camera, a worn hat on his head and a tin cup cradled in his arms. He was leaning on a fence, and he looked completely destitute.

We pulled up to the elegant Terminal Station, with its arches and tall towers, and Mrs. Chandler, Mamma, and I hurried into the station and found the track where the destitute girl of my imagination was scheduled to arrive. A few minutes later, in a mist of steam and fog, Mary Dobbs Dillard stepped off the train, and I gasped.

My first sight of her was spellbinding. Mary Dobbs was the most gorgeous girl I had ever laid eyes on, but in a strange, unorthodox way. She had softly tanned skin—not at all the perfect pale that we considered stylish—and thick, wavy black hair that she wore loose to her waist. Her eyes were black—truly, big black oval onyx stones—and her face was a perfect oval too, with high cheekbones and skin that had never known a blemish, I was certain. She was small-boned and not particularly tall, but she looked strong, a determined kind of strong. She wore a faded dark blue cotton dress that hung all wrong on her thin, thin frame.

Maybe her family had fallen on hard times, but she did not look meek. She stood straight up, shoulders back, and had an expression of wonder on her lovely face.

"Hello, Mary Dobbs," Mrs. Chandler said, giving her niece a friendly pat on the back.

Mary Dobbs set down a small suitcase, off-white, scuffed, and well used, to say the least, and threw her arms around Mrs. Chandler and hugged her tightly. "It is so, so good to be here, Aunt Josie!"

Wearing a startled expression, Mrs. Chandler politely undid herself from Mary Dobbs's embrace and said, "I'm so glad you made it safely." Then she turned to Mamma and me and said, "Mary Dobbs, I want you to meet dear friends of mine, Mrs. Singleton and her daughter Perri."

Mary Dobbs surveyed us, gave a warm smile that showed a perfect row of teeth, and reached out and took my hand, shaking it up and down forcefully. "Nice to meet you," she said, and added in a whisper to me, "I've dropped Mary. I just go by Dobbs now."

Our eyes met, briefly, and I felt my face go red.

"Well, Mary Dobbs," Mrs. Chandler said, "I'll get my chauffeur to retrieve your bags."

She motioned to the driver, but before he could start up the steps to the train, Dobbs shook her head, pointed to the worn suitcase, and said, "This is all I have."

Again Mrs. Chandler seemed surprised, but she recovered quickly and said, "Well, if this is all, then I suppose we can be going." The driver picked up the suitcase and headed out of the train station, with us following.

On the way home, I sat in the back seat with Mamma on one side and Dobbs on the other. I watched, fascinated, as Dobbs's long black mane flew out behind her like a flag in the May Day Parade. I didn't know another girl with long hair.

Mamma gave me a little nudge in the side, which meant, Say something, Perri! So I asked, "Have you ever been to Atlanta?"

"Once or twice, a long time ago. I don't remember much, but my father has described parts of Atlanta to me."

"He's from here?"

Dobbs looked at me with suspicion. "Well, yes. My father is Mrs. Chandler's brother. He grew up in the house she lives in now."

My face heated. Of course. What a stupid question!

I wanted to tell her she was amazingly lucky to be living in that huge house, but that would not have been polite. For whatever other faults I had, I did know I must be polite, especially with Mamma sitting in the seat beside me. I also wanted to ask Dobbs about her life in Chicago, but considering what Mrs. Chandler had said about their situation, I didn't think that would be polite either.

So we sat in silence.

Mamma turned to me and tried to make conversation. "Perri dear, why don't you tell Mary Dobbs a little about your school, the girls in your class? I'm sure she's eager to hear about it."

I scowled a little. She didn't seem eager; she seemed overeager, her eyes wide with enthusiasm, and that annoyed me. "Washington Seminary is the name of the school. I guess you know that—"

Dobbs cut in, "Oh yes! Washington Seminary—and it's not a seminary at all. It's 'an efficient and beautiful school for girls'—something like that. There are thirty experienced teachers and four courses leading to graduation, and you have a French club and a Spanish club and all kinds of sports—basketball and field hockey and a swim team—and May Day festivities ..."

I stared at her with my mouth open. She sounded like an advertisement for the school as she spoke with an accent that was certainly not Southern.

She gave me a warm smile and said, "Aunt Josie sent me last year's yearbook. I've read it through. Facts and Fancies."

"Oh. Well then, I guess you know everything there is to know. Nothing much I can add."

Mamma glanced at me with disapproval in her eyes, and I shrugged.

"No, I don't know everything," Dobbs said sweetly. "Of course not. Tell me something about yourself."

I did not want to talk to this effervescent girl, but Mother nudged me in the ribs. I rolled my eyes. "I'm seventeen, in the junior class— there are thirty-two of us—I write for Facts and Fancies, and I'm a photographer. I head up the Red Cross Club, I'm vice-president of the junior class, and I'm in the Phi Pi sorority. I love parties and my circle of friends attends two or three a week. Dances, you know, and all the swell boys are there from the boys' high school, which has the most boring name in the world—Boys High—and from the colleges in Atlanta—Georgia Tech and Emory and Oglethorpe. And several girls in my class are pinned.

"After school we go to Jacobs' Drugstore and order Coca-Cola or something else from the soda fountain. I love to ride horses. Fox hunting is my favorite. Let's just say I'm rarely bored."

Dobbs stared at me the whole time with a tiny smile spreading across her lips. She cocked her head and just kept staring—jet black eyes looking straight through me—and said, "Well, thank you for that monologue, Perri Singleton. But I'm sure there's a lot more to you than that. It will be nice to get to know who you really are."

I glared at her, stuck my nose in the air, and turned to Mamma, who always said that when I was mad, lightning bolts flashed from my eyes, "seeking someone to sizzle."

Dobbs did not seem to notice but leaned forward and said, "Aunt Josie, wasn't Mr. Roosevelt's speech fabulous! 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself!' He's going to bring this country around! I just know it! The way he said we have enough, but that we just haven't been using our resources the right way, is the plain truth!"

Dobbs sat beside me in her rags and talked on and on about the "religious tone of Mr. Roosevelt's address" and how he put words to the feelings of the American people. Mrs. Chandler nodded politely but looked as if she were more worried about getting a crick in her neck as she twisted around in her seat to look at Dobbs.

She's just trying to impress Mrs. Chandler, I thought.

I finally shot Dobbs my lightning-bolt look, and she smiled back at me, completely unfazed. "What did you think of the speech, Perri?" When I didn't respond, even after Mamma elbowed me twice, the three of us sat in silence again.

Thank heavens we arrived at the Chandler place a few minutes later. I mumbled, "Nice to have met you," and Dobbs said, "Likewise. See you on Monday at school."

"What a strange person," I said to Mamma as she drove the Buick toward home and turned onto our street. "She's a bit dramatic, wouldn't you say? Babbling on and on about the new president as if she knows it all, in her potato-sack dress and pitiful suitcase. I'm glad we wear uniforms at Washington Seminary. At least the girls won't have to see her wardrobe. Yet."

"Shh now, Perri. Yes, she is a bit different, but I think she's simply very excited to be here, considering where she came from. She'll fit in fine, I'm sure. Please try to introduce her to a few girls on Monday. And don't judge her too soon."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser Copyright © 2011 by Elizabeth Musser. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

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(22)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2012

    Great read!

    The story line takes place in Atlanta during the great depression. The writing is solid the characters are well defined and crafted. I would classify this book as a page turner. The author leads you through the lives of two main characters one who knew the best of society in Atlanta the other from a struggling family living in Chicago, they meet when the young lady from Chicago moves to Atlanta to live with her father's sister. The emotions that are displayed are raw and incredibly real, the reader will be pulled into the story line beginning on the first page. This is not a fluff novel and strongly recommend buying the book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2012

    Wonderful book! Great characters and storyline and history.

    I really enjoy her characters and hostorical storyline

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2012

    Really good book!

    This is a great book ! Lots of life lessons in here! This book has a little mystrey with a wonderful picture of atlanta during the depression & how Gid will always lead you through it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011

    Beautiful and artistic writing

    Friendship. Love. Forgiveness. A beautiful story that I couldn't put down. I will be buying more of Elizabeth Musser's books soon! (The Swan House was also fantastic.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2011

    The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser

    I got a book for free from the Bethany House reviewers company, but I've been gone, so I'm only getting around to writing the review until now. So, anyway, "The Sweetest Thing" by Elizabeth Musser was a really good book. I love historical fiction- I love history in general ? This book takes place in the 1930's. Anne Perri Singleton is a socialite (or at least it seemed it to me?) But as the Great Depression comes and her life crashes as hard as the stock market, Perri makes a new friend. Will their new relationship stand the test of jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets? I won't say, but I will say that this book is definitely an enjoyable read. I give it a solid four out of five stars?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Book

    I am a fan of Elizabeth Musser. She is a sensitive writer who has studied well the social characteristics of the times she writes in. This is a great story about friendship, resilience, and being true to who you are. The characters are varied and complex. It is a good read about the power of friendship and forgiveness and you will find yourself being able to really picture each scene. It would make a good book club book as there are surprises and twists that can't be predicted. All the makings of a good novel.

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  • Posted August 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Awesome Read

    I loved this book! Should be made into a movie! The title of the book hits it right on the spot!
    The book begins when Mary Dobbs Dillard arrives in a new world. She had been to Atlanta before, but many years ago, and before the depression. What a whole new life is about to open up to her!
    Mary Dobbs...or Dobbs as she is called has come to stay with her Aunt Josie and Uncle Robert, she is coming to attend a wonderful Private School..Washington Seminary.
    When she arrives in Atlanta she is met by her Aunt and soon to be best friend Perri. This day is also President Hoover's last day in office, and President Roosevelt's first Fire Side Chat. It also turns out to be Perri's worst day of her young life. Her Father takes his own life!
    Dobb's is an unlikely friend for Perri, but they find joy through the turmoil in their young lives. Dobb's father is a Preacher and she has gone to bed numerous times hungry, as her folks give away their food to those more needy. She arrives to opulence, and food!
    I loved hearing the stories she told the girls in her inner circle. This is such a great read that I never wanted it to end....love that there was an epilogue at the end of the book. Thank you Elizabeth Musser for sharing your gifts!

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    A Very Enjoyable Read!

    I was pulled in right from the first sentence..."I met Dobbs on the day my world fell apart." The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser was sent to me by Bethany House Publishers for review. It is written by Elizabeth Musser. I have never read anything by this author and was happy to be introduced to her work! The book takes place in Georgia during the time of the Great Depression. (I love historical fiction!!) The book switches back and forth between the view-points of the two main characters. Mary Dobbs Dillard arrives in Atlanta to stay with her affluent Aunt & Uncle. Her family is from Chicago and is very poor, as her father is an itinerant preacher. She forms a fast friendship with Anne Perri Singleton. Anne is used to a life of affluence, but immediately hardships hit her family and this stretches the friendship of the two. I found myself wrapped up in the lives of these characters & would welcome a sequel to this great book!! It was an enjoyable, easy read that I would recommend if you're looking for a book for what is left of your summer reading time.

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  • Posted July 15, 2011

    GREAT BOOK!!! IT"S A MUST READ!!!

    Hey Y'all, This is one of the best books yet! I always enjoy reading Elizabeth's books, because of the fact they are based in my great city of Atlanta!!! (Best place on earth btw) And they christian undertones that they always have. Perri, now this girl has it all, money, servants, parents that adore her, and friends that worship her. That is until her father suddenly dies...Leaving their mom to find work, and eventually Perri as well. One day, Perri's mom makes her meet a girl at the train station names Mary Dobbs coming in from Chicago to Stay with her aunt for the year, that way she could get a decent education...And her first impression is that she a a poor girl who is in need of charity...Little did she know she was looking at her best friend. Mary Dobbs, now this girl is opposite of Perri in every way...Her hair is long, she doesn't have designer clothes, and she's wanting to become a preacher's wife that lives day to day wondering where their next meal is going to come from...that is until she gets a taste of the 'high life'. If you pick up The Sweetest Thing, you are going to be transported in time to the depression Era, and follow these two young girls the the trials of being teenagers in the 1930's!!! (I received this book from Bethany House Publishing, and was given permission to give my thoughts weither they be positive or negative)

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  • Posted July 11, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Friendship and Faith Through the Great Depression

    "The Sweetest Thing is a touching story of friendship and faith. Musser's characters are as real and as unforgettable as the friends I grew up with."
    -Lynn Austin, bestselling author of While We're Far Apart

    My Review:

    Elizabeth Musser, in her book, The Sweetest Thing, gives you a very personal, bird's-eye view of life during the Depression years in different parts of the country in the early 1930s.

    It's a book of contrasts: Anne "Perri" Singleton's wealthy socialite family and Mary Dobbs Dillard's poor family whose father is an itinerant pastor; Anne who has a well-ordered, busy social life and Mary who is an outspoken individualist; and the possibility of polar opposites becoming friends.

    When disaster strikes Perri's life, Mary is there to encourage her with her faith in God. When sickness and secrets strikes Mary's life, she questions and doubts her faith. Jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets eventually causes an estranged in their friendship. But it's faith that comes from the least likely source that will surprise you through the end of the story.

    The ups and downs of the girls' friendship are typical for the circumstances and age of the girls. They seem very familiar. The descriptions of the calamities that befall some of the families are well-developed and so very real. The destitution during the Depression is palpable and realistic. The mystery that is woven into the story keeps the pages turning!

    God's intervention stands out in ways that shouldn't surprise a believer, yet in ways it does. God is faithful, just not always in how we expect. Trust in God is the main emphasis that comes to my mind in the midst of trying circumstances in Elizabeth's story. Along with the faith, love and help of people when desperate times hit those they have come to love.

    Friendship and the faithfulness of God are The Sweetest Thing.

    This book was provided by Jim Hart of Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Very good book about friendship of two very different girls from very different backgrounds. Good view of life in the great depression and people struggles. The book had alot of the good things we look for in books, humor, love,romance, tragety, suspense,mystery,family warm fuzzies, happy endings and some good bible lessons. When I first recieved the book I wasn't sure I would like it or not. I was very pleasantly suprised, it's one of those books that suck you into the plot, you feel you are living among the people in the story. It's one of those books you feel compelled to finish...can't put it down. This was my first and hopefully not my last Elizabeth Musser book.

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  • Posted June 15, 2011

    Poignant story of friendship & faith in the Depression-era South

    The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser is a beautiful story of friendship between two young women in 1930s Atlanta, Georgia. Perri Singleton is the most popular girl in Atlanta, gaining the nickname of "girl of a thousand dates" for her beauty and charm. Mary Dobbs Dillard doesn't quite fit in like Perri when she moves from Chicago to stay with her aunt and attend school in Atlanta to help out her financially strapped family. Dobbs' father is a pastor who often gives away his own family's food to others in need, and in the midst of the Depression, there is always someone in need. Dobbs and Perri make an immediate connection, one so deep and rare that they become inseparable. But when Perri's father commits suicide after terrible financial losses, it plunges her family into their struggle to survive, removing her from the social circle she's always occupied and pushing her into the arms of Spaulding, a rich college boy who could return Perri and her family to the lifestyle they are accustomed to. Dobbs left Chicago with an understanding with Hank, but the allure of living comfortably makes her question all that she knew and held to be true, especially when illness threatens the life of her younger sister. There are some books that you read that don't pull you in because of the story: Perri and Dobbs' friendship is not an unusual story, especially with the Southern hook; you read them because of the writer, because of the beauty and elegance of the writing. This is that book. Musser pulls readers completely into the world of Perri and Dobbs, both facing terrible choices in their young lives and trying to figure out just where God fits in. Narration alternates between the two girls, and Musser does a remarkable job of portraying them through the actual writing styles. Dobbs' words tumble out almost on top of each other, bouncing from topic to topic with no warning or breath. Perri's chapters are more restrained, much like the young woman herself, she tries to portray a certain image of herself, even to readers. There's also a mystery here with stolen jewelry, but the real story is that of Perri and Dobbs growing up together. It's compelling and poignant and feels very, very real. With this novel, Musser has placed herself on my "favorite authors" list.

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  • Posted June 13, 2011

    Beauty from ashes.... a heartwarming read!

    Elizabeth Musser has just written another best seller!

    Set in Atlanta, during the Great Depression of the 1930s, we step into the lives of Anne "Perri" Singleton and Mary Dobbs Dillard.

    Anne Perri: "family seemingly untouched by the Depression, the camaraderie of friends at an exclusive Atlanta girls' school, and an enviable social life."

    Mary Dobbs Dillard: "the passionate and fiercely individualist daughter of an itinerant minister," a family who lives in poverty along with those to whom they minister.

    Perri and her mother ride with Aunt Josie to pick Mary Dobbs up from the train station. As the girls meet, their differences shine through. Perri feels that Mary Dobbs is a "strange person" who is a bit dramatic... not to mention her "potato-sack dress;" Mary Dobbs knew that Anne Perri didn't like her or her ailment called poverty.

    After the group returns to Aunt Josie's home, Perri and her mother continue home. Expecting to find her father in his study, Perri goes looking for him. As soon as she steps into the stable, she finds her father...
    hanging from the rafter...
    dead.

    A father's death, stolen items from numerous wealthy homes, the innocent sent to The Alms Houses until repayment could be made, and budding romances all bring this poignant story to life. The Depression wasn't just about the banks closing; it is about the resilience of the human spirit 'to get up and get on' with life.

    Through the pain of death, a friendship is born. One that "will be tested by jealousy, betrayal, and family secrets." As the story unfolds, we see the Spirit working, first through Dobbs, and then through others.

    The Sweetest Thing gives the reader an intimate look into the lives of people during the Depression. It wasn't just a time in history; it helped shape a generation. When we learn about this time period, it is just facts and dates. Through historical fiction, we can feel and see how regular people not only survived the Depression, but lived through it to show the love of Christ to all.

    Thank you, Elizabeth Musser, for writing a moving story and bringing this time period alive!


    Star Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    I received a complimentary copy of The Sweetest Thing from Bethany House Publisher for my honest review.

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  • Posted June 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Tragedy, Friendship, Redeeming Grace

    The time is the Great Depression - 1930's, the place is Atlanta. Times are tough for Mary and her family, but their faith keeps them strong. She is from Chicago and her father is a preacher. The opportunity arises for Mary to go live with an aunt in Atlanta so that she can get a better education, so she moves. Perri is a total opposite. She is from the society side of Atlanta and loves the parties and popularity. When the two girls meet, it seems unlikely that they will be friends, but when tragedy enters the picture, circumstances change. Throughout the book the two girls change, sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad. How the girls end up and the mystery and suspense that is added will keep a reader enthralled throughout the story.

    This is a wonderful story of tragedy, friendship, faith, and redeeming grace. I loved reading about the characters encountering and dealing with real problems, real situations. The girls became very real to me and I was hoping the book would end with good things for the girls, but won't give away the ending! One of the biggest lessons of the book is that no matter what, God is always with us. He is there even when we turn our backs on Him. I recommend this book to individuals and groups alike. There are many topics that lend themselves to group discussion. Thank you to Bethany House for my copy of the book. It is a pleasure to write my review!

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    ROMANTIC SUSPENSFUL INSPIRATIONAL!

    I found this book to be a VERY enjoyable read. It was so well written. I found many spiritual lessons to be learned that I could apply to my life.
    The setting is the 1930's during the depression in Atlanta, Georgia. Mary Dobbs was the daughter of a very poor but dedicated evangelist. She had her family had little to spare and often times not enough. Instead of this being a negative, their poverty had strengthened her faith in God and her focus was on sharing Christ and living for Him. She was a very happy vivacious young woman, untouched by their hardships. Her family sends her to live with her wealthy aunt and have the opportunity to receive an education they cannot afford.
    When she moves to Atlanta, she meets Perri Singleton, the exact opposite of Mary. She has only known wealth and privilege all her life. She is unappreciative, intolerant, and petty. At first the two girls do not like each other then tragedy brings them together and they become fast friends.
    Mary is strong in sharing her beliefs and living by them, but the longer she lives in affluence the more she begins to stray from her strong faith. As her faith wanes and weakens she becomes more shallow and worldly like Perri. At the same time her sowing of the seed of God's Word has taken hold in the hearts of the other socialite girls and Perri and they grow in faith.
    I found such a lesson in this about how the focus on worldly things can crowd the Lord out of one's life, and the more we have the more discontented we will become if we not careful. It also showed the strong influence of one's peers on personal choices and beliefs.
    Both characters face many heartaches and struggles, yet the author always brought Bible principals into dealing with their problems. Some parts made me really think about accepting my circumstances as God's will and asking "what" He wants me to do, not "why". My thoughts were also directed to the fact that what we think is best for us may not be God's best no matter how things appear or our feelings.
    I like the way the author went back and forth between Mary and Perri, sharing each girls thoughts a view point of the situation. It was fun being able to see both sides of the story that the other character wasn't privy to knowing.
    This book was like driving an Arkansas road; lot's of twists and curves when you least expect it. It was hard to put down! There was definitely romance in the book but it was handled so tastefully.
    I really liked the ending, it was complete and I felt very satisfied, not like with some books where you are left hanging or expecting more. I highly recommend this book! I was sad when I finished it!
    I have received this from book Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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  • Posted June 9, 2011

    The Sweetest Thing

    The Sweetest Thing by Elizabeth Musser is a historical novel set in the southern Great Depression Era. The author did a beautiful job opening the curtain that often hid the elite who shared the same struggles as the poor during this tragic period of American history.

    Hoover was gone and Roosevelt was in as the new president of the United States. But help did not come soon enough for Anne "Perri " Singleton's father, head of the Georgia Trust Bank. Her world fell apart in 1933 when her father was found hanging from the rafters. Suicide.

    When Mary "Dobbs" Dillard, from Chicago, daughter of a poor itinerant minister, comes to live with her father's sister and wealthy aunt to attend school, they become fast friends. Dobbs tries to fit into Atlanta society, struggling with the morals she has been taught since birth, and Perri tries to keep up appearances, temporarily sacrificing her friendship with Dobbs.

    Perri and Dobbs seek to reveal family secrets. Their answers uncover jealousy, betrayal, and disaster which collides with their well-ordered life. It was fascinating to read the great lengths that the privileged would resort to maintain their lifestyle during the Depression. It was equally fascinating to read Dobbs struggle in her aunt's home, never experiencing being served by blacks, the very people that she served in her father's ministry.

    The author did a wonderful job detailing the sharp contrast between black and white relations during this time, sadly, which still exist in areas of the south. This story would be a beautiful addition to your summer reading.

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    Wonderful!

    An Atlanta native and proud alumna of the Westminster Schools, I thoroughly enjoyed this beautifully researched book about our predecessor, Washington Seminary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2011

    Exceptional

    I received a copy of THE SWEETEST THING by Elizabeth Musser from Bethany House. On first glance, I found the cover to be extremely engaging. A young woman glances over her shoulder, with a mansion in the background, and old-fashioned tinting gives the scene a mysterious flavor. It reminds me of my grandmother's childhood photographs.

    I love the story. The theme of poverty amongst beauty strikes close to home, since the country is now in hard times, money-wise. The novel is fast paced and flows smoothly, until the end, where it begins to drag. The characters have a mystery to solve, but they seem to put that aside and concentrate on day-to-day activities instead.

    The story jumps between Dobbs and Perri, the two main characters. That is easy to follow, since the sections are clearly labeled. Each girl learns to love God in her own way. Their struggles are powerful to read about, and the happy conclusion brought a smile to my face. The author summed up the characters' futures in a prologue, but I long for a sequel.

    The best part about the book is that the author based many things off real life, such as the setting and school. This is a trip back in time you should not miss!

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The perfect summer read!

    The Sweetest Thing is the saga of two friends, who endure heartbreak and trials beyond what most teens ever face. 1933 Atlanta showcases the wealth and poverty of the era. Elizabeth Musser is a master storyteller, who weaves her magic into characters that come alive on the page. It reminded me so much of my childhood friends, that I didn't want it to end. Novel Journey and I give The Sweetest Thing a very high recommendation. A perfect summer read.

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  • Posted June 1, 2011

    Sweet Story of Faith and Friendship

    I am always looking for good Christian fiction that I feel good about reading. That's the case with this one. Over the span of two days this past weekend, I stole minutes here and there to make my way through this book. When I was done, I had a strange sense of peace. The messages in the book deeply encouraged me. And I'd even say some of the statements in the book challenged me to rethink how I've been looking at some things in my life.

    The Sweetest Thing is the story of a sweet friendship between Perri and Dobbs during the Depression. Dobbs comes to live with her aunt in Atlanta. At first, Perri and Dobbs are like oil and water, but then a tragedy binds them together as Perri comes to see Dobbs for the genuine person that she is. I really don't want to give away any of the plot. It is the story of very poor girl, Dobbs, who comes into a society who reacts with great animosity to her arrival. Perri is the lone girl who likes her. Of course there is a conflict in the story which involves a theft and threat to those she loves. But, this isn't a thriller. It is a heart-warming drama filled with hope.

    There were several quotes which stuck with me. One of them is a quote from Dobbs Preacher father, "Unsolicited advice is always interpreted as criticism." (p. 216)

    "You will never win people to Christ by pointing out their failings. You have to learn to care about them and love them first." (p. 216) We are reformed and so I firmly believe that it is not by our efforts that people come to believe in Christ--we are saved by God's grace...

    For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--Eph 2:8 NIV

    But, this story is set in the depression and her father was a tent preacher so in context this statement was appropriate. The part though that we have to care about them and love them first is such a good reminder.

    The writing of the story is not exceptional, but it is good and engaging. I love that the young girls behave in age appropriate ways--they aren't treated as adults, but as young adults. The adults act like adults and even when Dobbs and Perri don't understand their parents' decisions, they come to in the end.

    The story was full of redemption and hope. There is a struggle of faith, but it didn't feel fake or contrived.

    I look forward to reading more books by Elizabeth Musser.

    Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Bethany House.

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