Stop the train! I forgot my copy of Colleen's book "The Finest Hat in the Whole World!"
Although this story is set in the era from 1917 through
1937, there is only background impact of the volatile events of those years. However, the social and cultural nuances of this period is a perfect back drop. The fictional towns are somewhere in
Northern California, perhaps in the San Joaquin Valley. Every character is so well drawn they are painted in a technicolor of words. Every character is humanly flawed and believable. We all know
these people. In spite of all their warts and scars, the author skillfully seduces us into loving each of them.
Here is what is stunning about this work: It is not a mystery or a suspense (although there is an incident that haunts the main character, Del, about the death of his brother, Alex, that is never explained). There are no plot twists or big surprises. The author tells a pretty ordinary story of an ordinary family in a most extraordinary way as they deal with secrets, rage, lost dreams, hope, forgiveness and redemption. It is charming, sometimes funny, and reflective. For some reason it reminds me of The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.
If it were not for some editing and point of view issues, this would have been a five star read for me, but the story overcomes these issues in the telling. I loved this book and look forward to the next read from this author.
A charming Family Saga beginning 1917 and spanning twenty years. ‘Secrets are like moonlight obscured by the fog” the books begins and Des has many secrets. His 9 year old niece, Phena, is coming to live with him and his family because her own mother is ill. As the story unfolds we learn about the darker family dynamics of Des’s own family and that of Phena’s. It’s written in a gentle, old-fashioned style at the time of the first world war and prohibition. I say gentle in that it’s not fast-moving or plot-driven, it is the acutely observed characters that drive this: the feisty child Phena and her passage through adolescence to young adulthood, her touching relationship with Des, and the portrayal of the family dynamics. Des is a great character as are his family members and I especially loved little Eddie Quan and Joey. They are very memorable and stay with you after reading the book. The theme of the finest hat is a delightful one. I hear the author is an award-winning playwright too.
Doranne Long rated it it was amazing
Sandra Reed "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?"
Joel Dennstedt "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."
Pattie Lou Ross "This book has wonderful characters and a great story...its one of those books you just can't put down!!!"
Charlie Gregor "Ms Parkinson's writing has a way of drawing the reader in and making the book a true page turner."
Chantelle Atkins "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!"
AMAZON READERS’ REVIEWS
February 6, 2018
December 6, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on December 8, 2015
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
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.
5.0 out of 5 stars I totally enjoyed this book
By Charles J. Gregor on January 27, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
I totally enjoyed this book. I have, in fact, just finished my fourth reading. A story of great dramatic sweep and reflection, the
author displays her own bright, inspirational way of taking this family drama and infusing it with her singular, unique style.
This is an extremely well-conceived, well-crafted work. I enjoyed the pacing of the story and the subtle humor throughout. The characters are beautifully and intimately drawn, never stale or predictable. I was rooting for them through their challenges, heartbreak and triumphs. I also enjoyed the many musical references that helped bind the historical settings of the times and the subsequent pathos of this novel.
Remarkably well done! Ms. Parkinson is definitely an author to keep your eye on.
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read
By Pamela C Blake on April 13, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
A heartfelt story about a California family in the early part of the twentieth century, and the small child who unexpectedly comes to
live with them. At first the little girl brings them great challenges and then, redemption. Ms. Parkinson is a wonderful writer and a fine story teller.
She moves through the family's joys and their many trials with great heart and a sly sense of humor. I look forward to more from her!
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years of a families life.
By Steven F. Copelin on February 29, 2016
I loved this book. The era in which it took place intrigues me. I love the history and the lives of this family, reminds me of my
own. I loved the story. It made me laugh, cry and made me feel I was there.
It was a good read. Colleen Parkinson is a great story teller. Can't wait for her next book.
Give it try; you won't be disappointed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful writing!
By Janice Tinto on May 10, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
Truly a family story filled with love, hardship and challenges. There is great character development with all the family members. The writing is wonderful, very visual, and flows along smoothly, keeping your interest to the end. I will be looking forward to more of Colleen's novels.
4.0 out of 5 stars The characters become people you like and look forward to learning more about
By Murphy on April 28, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition
An engaging read. The characters become people you like and look forward to learning more about.
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Story
By Amazon Customer on January 2, 2016
Colleen Parkinson has a unique flare in telling her story about The Finest Hat in the Whole World. It captured my interest from the very beginning. It is an emotional account of hidden feelings that kept me intrigued through each chapter with surprises. I could hardly wait to find out how this story ended. I thought it was a very enjoyable read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome book!!!
By Zengirl on January 27, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A wonderful story, believable characters set in an interesting era. I loved this book!