A tale of three generations of North Carolina women that has charmed readers from coast to coast. Their men may come and go-- but for Margaret, Sophia and Charlie Kate, the hopes, hurts, large losses and small victories are the stuff that bind family together.
Margaret could so easily have been scarred by all of the tragedies she witnesses both in her grandmother's patients,and in the romantic relationships of her grandparents and parents. Instead, she emerges unscarred and ready to carry on the legacy of this unusual, loving family.
I'm certainly going to check out Kaye Gibbons' other books. This was such an extraordinary read. If her others are half as well written as this, with characters that have even half the charm, they will still be well worth reading.
Charlie Kate came to be known as the best midwife in the county and was soon requested for various medical problems that people were coming down with. She is a very strong woman and finds herself taking on and winning many battles within the community. It seemed to me that she actually became a martyr for all of the progress that she helped develop within the little town that she lived. Unfortunately, her husband grows tired of her company and leaves Charlie Kate to raise their daughter on her own.
Sophia is Charlie Kate's daughter, and although I don't think the novel really focused too much on her, she was a very important character. Sophia marries a man that her mother does not approve of and they end up having a daughter of their own-Margaret. Margaret and Sophia eventually spend most of their waking hours at Charlie Kate's home. The next thing you know, Sophia's husband leaves her and it only seems reasonable that the three women share a home together.
As they find themselves spending more time together they learn a lot more about each others dreams and goals. The grandmother is often called upon to go on housecalls for the sick, and Sophia and Margaret usually find themselves accompanying her. It seems that while the grandmother is tending to the sick individual that there is always something important for the others to do, whether it be washing dishes, preparing a meal, or consoling a family member, no job is too little at the time. Through these acts I think they learn the importance of charity, kindness, and compassion.
As World War II is in full swing, these ladies find themselves working as volunteers as they are needed. Sophia finds herself leading a local Red Cross chapter, as Margaret and Charlie Kate are asked to help out at a hospital that cares for wounded soldiers that are returning from combat. Charlie Kate helps at the hospital on a medical basis, but Margaret finds herself connecting with the patients on a more emotional level. She spends time with the soldiers by reading letters from home and writing letters for the soldiers that can't complete this task on their own. I found myself looking forward to these letters and it was probably my favorite part of this book.
With Sophia busying herself with the Red Cross efforts, Charlie Kate and Margaret form a special bond as they spend more time together. This part was especially sweet to me as I have always been very close to my own grandmother.
This book was a short, quick read and it appeared to be simple writing to me, but there was so much beauty and intimacy in the simpleness of it. I found myself enjoying this book more as it progressed and by the time I finished it I really did love it. I know that I wouldn't have chosen this book on my own, so I am grateful that this was a book club selection. I think it will make a great discussion!
Tells the story of three generations of women, and the coming of age of the youngest. The grandmother is such a tough, feisty,wise old bird - very endearing.
Sophia, Margaret, and Charlie Kate find strength in a time when women almost always depended on men, and their bond deepens as each one experiences love and loss during World War II. Charms for the Easy Life is a passionate, luminous, and exhilarating story about embracing what life has to offer ... even if it means finding it in unconventional ways.
This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
Good even on a second reading.
The writing style was just my style. It was smart, funny, poignant and became a real voice as I read. The characters shared similarities, but were very different. They were each sympathetic, frustrating and full-bodied. I loved each one.
The book ended in a very nice and realistic way: it just ended. Much like life goes from one chapter to the next. Readers have become so used to every mystery being solved, every identity being revealed and every rock being overturned. In "Charms" there were unanswered questions, loose threads and every bit of realism that day-to-day life holds. I closed this book feeling very satisfied, and that is the best review a book can receive.
All three women also have encounters and relationships with men, though after her disastrous initial marriage Charlie Kate has no use for any man in her life and Sophia is all too ready to go head over heels in spite of her own abandonment and divorce. Margaret is cautious, not wanting to follow in those footsteps.
All three are lovely, progressive, intelligent and independent. I very much enjoyed the characters and though there wasn't much plot, it was quite enjoyable to become acquainted with them.