Today I am reviewing Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel for TLC Book Tours. As always, I am provided with a free copy of the book for my honest review.
About the book:
Set against a vivid and lush South Florida background during the years of Miami’s coming-of-age, Stiltsville offers a gripping, bittersweet portrait of a marriage—and romance—that deepens over the course of three decades.
One sunny morning in 1969, near the end of her first trip to Miami, twenty-six-year-old Frances Ellerby finds herself in a place called Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in the middle of Biscayne Bay. On the dock of a stilt house, with the dazzling skyline in the distance and the unknowable ocean beneath her, she meets the house’s owner, Dennis DuVal—and a new future reveals itself.
Turning away from her life, Frances moves to Miami to be with Dennis. Over time, she earns the confidence of his wild-at-heart sister and the approval of his oldest friend. Frances and Dennis marry and have a child—but rather than growing complacent about their good fortune, they continue to face the challenges of intimacy, and of the complicated city they call home.
Stiltsville was called “an exquisite debut” by Publishers Weekly, and “a perfect balance of wit, weakness and tenderness . . . wonderfully buoyant” by BookPage. Susanna Daniel interweaves the beauty, chaos, and humanity of Miami with an enduring story of a marriage’s beginning, maturity, and heartbreaking demise.
My review: One of the perks of reviewing a book I might not otherwise encounter occurs when I get to discover a terrific new writer and a novel that is simply wonderful. And this book is. Susanna Daniel is a marvelous writer. She draws on her own experience living in Stiltsville with her family as a young girl. Her descriptions of Miami and the Biscayne Bay are so vivid that I felt I was there. She clearly knows the city of her growing-up years intimately.
Even more powerful, though, is her loving portrait of a marriage. We first meet Frances and Dennis when they are young and travel with them as they navigate marriage, parenthood, job loss and other challenges. These two characters are so finely drawn, so fully realized that the reader feels like a friend who is there as everything happens. It is an honest, beautifully written portrait of a marriage. Family, extended family, and long-time friends are also very much a part of this novel. When faced with the ultimate challenge, will the marriage stay strong? You’ll have to read this beautiful novel to see. I recommend this book highly.
About the author:
Susanna Daniel was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she spent much of her childhood at her family’s stilt house in Biscayne Bay. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and was a Carl Djerassi Fiction Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.
Susanna lives with her husband and son in Madison, Wisconsin, where during the long winter she dreams of the sun and the sea, and of jumping off the stilt house porch at high tide. She is at work on a second novel.