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Some of the Reviews

Reviewed by Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
    Only the finest writers can accomplish what Colleen A. Parkinson does in her fascinating historical novel, The Finest Hat in the Whole World. Sometimes, rarely, a reader feels overwhelmingly privileged to read just such a book. To Kill a Mockingbird comes to mind. And there is a reassuring resonance with this major classic to be found in Ms. Parkinson's book - both in the utterly endearing relationship between the rebellious, once-abused Phena and her devoted Uncle Des with whom she lives, having been abandoned by her stoically indifferent father and her abusive, mentally ill mother - and also in the rarefied atmosphere of its moralistic message.
   The year is 1917, the United States is just about to enter the devastating First World War, and Des - who is a bar owner in small town USA - is too old at thirty to be drafted. Due to a situation markedly more complex than it initially seems, 9-year-old Phena is given into the custody of Des. She too is more complex than she at first appears.Their relationship is nothing but complex, but it is based clearly on devotion and adoration, which becomes a primary driving force behind the deep, compelling, twenty-year-long plot development in this masterpiece of writing. Remarkably, even the most difficult plot elements are handled with immeasurable grace and credibility.
  Every character in Colleen A. Parkinson's The Finest Hat in the Whole World is finely drawn and made absolutely real and psychologically credible and intriguing, for the author often elicits individual personality quirks out of experiences subconsciously endured because they happened so long ago, sometimes leaving subtle emotional scars that linger into adulthood. However, what elevates her writing into the realm of truly great fiction - award-winning fiction - is Ms.Parkinson's flawless ability to evoke a vivid sense of presence through her stunning use of lean but gorgeous prose, crafted as meticulously as one might prune and nurture a perfectly-attended-to, thoroughly stunning victory garden ... or a daughter.



5.0 out of 5 stars   Heartwarming Family Drama

February 6, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition
 The Finest Hat In The Whole world is a story to snuggle up with. It's not fast-paced, it's not full of twists and turns and oh-my-gosh moments, but instead, it provides a slow and steady burn, a warmth of recognition as you get to know the characters and a growing sense of familiarity as you become engrossed in their lives. This is the story of Des, a bartender who lives at home with his mother, and Phena, his 9-year-old niece. The story spans their lives from 1917 into the Depression era and as well as being greatly character driven, this is a retelling of history through the eyes of ordinary American people. I found it fascinating and it felt like watching an old film. It was impossible not to fall for both Des and Phena from the start. Des takes Phena in when her own family rejects her. A feisty, damaged, confused little girl, Phena is a brilliant character throughout the book and the love between them is heartwarming. A family saga, this story unfolds across the years, as the characters experience death and loss, family feuds and resentments, poverty and wealth, good fortune and bad. I found this a truly interesting, emotional and soothing read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a character-driven historical family drama.
Theodore J. Cohen

5.0 out of 5 stars

Wonderful insight into human nature...

February 4, 2018

Format: Kindle Edition

 As an author, I enjoyed this book on a completely different level: looking at how Colleen Parkinson developed the characters she had created and the world they inhabited.

 First and foremost, of course, is the young woman of age nine, Phena, who, as the book opens learns she is to be sent to her father's brother's home for an indeterminate period of time. As the story unfolds, we learn a lot about this girl and the others in her and her extended family--about their secrets and the dangers that lurk about (especially in Phena's home) and why Phena not only is being sent away but also, why it's truly better that she has been.

 Parkinson's ability to create believable, flawed human beings is a gift she willing shares with us. What a joy it is to read her well-crafted prose, be introduced to, and come to know, the characters in this drama, and watch as each, in turn, plays their role in this heartbreaking story that could only have taken place in rural America between the beginning of WWI to the mid-1930s. For it's studies in human nature alone, you will not be able to put his book down. A gem of a book!

 Five STARS all the way.
linda burke
September 8, 2018
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
5.0 out of 5 stars

By Amazon Customer on December 8, 2015

Format: Paperback

This is a wonderful story that I could not put down. I hated for it to end. It was a realistic story about a family with all of its flaws and goodness. It demonstrated hope and perseverance and the challenges and rewards of raising a child while dealing with our own demons. Excellent portrayal of this family of characters. It left me feeling good and somewhat introspective.


4.0 out of 5 stars

By Michelle M on August 18, 2016

Format: Paperback

It took me a long time to finish this book mainly because I didn't have the Kindle edition but the actual book. I found it surprisingly engaging and interesting. It actually reminded me of Anne of Green Gables, which I loved as a child. It is the story of a spirited young girl who comes to live with her uncle. The book not only takes you through her coming of age but the slow maturing of her uncles and family. There is a welcome depth of character; no one's a saint in this book and least of all Phena, its heroine. It reminds you that who we are today is not necessarily who we will be tomorrow. A beautiful family saga about struggle and perseverance and love.


2017 Readers' Favorite International Award Winner

What Readers Are Saying

“This book really touched my heart…”


“…a story that will entertain readers and have them turning the pages.”


The writing is beautiful and evocative, featuring very insightful and colorful passages, and descriptions that succinctly capture the state of mind of the characters and the seasons of their souls.”


“Well-paced and gripping, The Finest Hat in the Whole World will have readers crying and laughing, feeling utterly entertained and connected with the compelling characters.”


“This is definitely one of the most endearing novels I have ever read.”


 "The absolute BEST READ I've had in quite sometime. I thoroughly enjoyed reading from the first paragraph to the last sentence. I couldn't wait to get home in the evening after work and get back to the chapter I left the night before. A great book! I sure hope there will be a sequel following the rest of the family.....? you never know?"


 "I am so glad to see others finding and enjoying your book. As a professional reviewer, I rated it my 2nd favorite book this past year out of 75 reviews."


  "This book has wonderful characters and a great story...its one of those books you just can't put down!!!"


  "Spent weekend reading this...I loved it. Will certainly recommend this to my reading buddies. Thanks for a wonderfully written book."


 "Ms Parkinson's writing has a way of drawing the reader in and making the book a true page turner."


 "I read this book a few months ago but I still think about it now! I would really love a prequel or sequel as I so fell in love with the characters. A genuinely heartrending and endearing family saga - something to curl up with and get sucked into!"