Fools for Love by Carol Ervin is Book Seven of the Mountain Women Series. I can’t believe I haven’t read every book in the series; each one is great. If I only looked at the title of this book, I would not have selected it. There is some saying about a book and its cover which had no applicability for me when I saw the author name. Carol Ervin writes multilevel great fiction with hints of actual historical events. A point that will not apply to every reader; her stories evoke nostalgia. In this book, readers look at the town of Winkler and surrounding area in 1920. For me, it could have been rural Indiana in the 1950s. Nostalgia cuts more than one way. I don’t look back and recall unpleasant experiences. My grandmother served as a filter for my childhood experiences. In this novel, the “grandmother” is May Rose. In later years her children might think back fondly on activities surrounding the canning of vegetables. It is lengthy, time-consuming and necessary work if a family wants to have diet variety in winter when there may not be money for travel to a neighboring town to purchase food. May Rose made some of the activities fun for her children. As did my grandmother for me. And we think back fondly to childhood experiences. This is one of many examples.
The reason the title Fools for Love is a good choice will not be clear until the reader is well into the novel. This is not a spoiler and not a surprise. To know the reasoning behind the following quote, you will have to read the novel. It is worth it. Luzanna is commenting on a difficult decision she must make regarding a possible life partner. She will make a choice but she is not sure that choosing a partner is superior to living alone. “That’s it.” She sat with her elbow on the table and her forehead bent to her hand. “I’m a fool for sure.” “No more than any of us.” Glory, Wanda, Virgie, Alma. Rona. Me.” (loc 3969-3972). This quote describes the situation of seven principal characters. Readers will note that all of them are female. Logically, there are men involved and yes, Ervin describes them as well. This quote appears at the 90% location marker. The reader can feel comfortable in agreement because the reader knows why this is true for each character.
Another feature of this series is the number of characters. Ervin gives a five-page listing of characters important in this novel and another page of characters referred to but not appearing in a principal role. Here comes the nostalgia again. In my late teens, my grandmother would describe a great number of characters that made up our family tree. Connections were linear and generational, just like in this novel. As mentioned, I have not read every book in the series so I looked over the pages before beginning reading. And I discovered another reason Carol Ervin is such a good writer. It was not necessary for me to preview the character pages. The characters, not the author, presented themselves in ways that I knew how they were related without returning to the references. Admittedly, I could not read this novel when tired or when thinking of something else. If I did so, I would get lost but then I just reread the recent reading. I found this to be a demonstration of strong writing craft.
My favorite genre is horror. In this novel, there are two depictions of horror without using offensive (or any) sexual terms. There was only one incident using a term related to physical violence; it was not offensive. The first horror story relates to Milton Chapman. For a complete description of all its terrible details, the reader must read an earlier novel from the series. But even in this novel, several characters recall a good portion of the horrible life Rona went through previously. Rona appears in this novel with a few surprises that May Rose did not want to hear. Milton is absent. Ervin suggests and teases us about the second horror story that seems to be inevitable. Minnie, a possible competitor to May Rose and her boarding house, might have a problem with her husband, Robert C. Cottonwood. This is a horror story hinted at and is one of the anecdotal nuggets that make this a worthwhile read.
Ervin develops powerful characters in conflict, some of them unable to affect their outcomes. The situation of Grace Margaret Graves might bring tears to a reader’s eyes. Price Loughrie drinks his way through life and might evoke sympathy. Or maybe the reader will give him a pass due to his involvement in one of the novel’s historically accurate events, Matewan.
This novel is 226 pages published in March 2018. It sells for USD 2.99 on Amazon. I read it on Kindle Unlimited for free. Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans I gave it five Amazon stars because of the very rich, strong characters. The number of characters should not daunt readers. All characters contribute. Characters and the “nostalgia factor” lead me to highly recommend this novel.