By: Mary Hutchings Reed
Publisher: Ampersand, Inc.
Publication Date: August 2016
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 14, 2016
A combination of humor, liberal activism, the issues of today, and religion...is it possible to utilize this recipe and come up with something so “delicious” that you never want to put it down? You wouldn’t think so. But when readers are brought, by this author, to a small town called Stirling, Wisconsin, that’s exactly the “dish” they sink their teeth into.
Stirling is a great deal like any small town, where everyone knows your name, your past, your mistakes and victories – and they never mind repeating them or reminding you of them when you really want to forget. Some neighbors are friendly, but there are days you wish wholeheartedly that everyone would just leave you alone. We’re talking about a place of volunteer fire departments, pancake breakfasts, a local library and a conservative mayor who oversees it all, Thomas Donaldson, who just happens to be married to a very liberal woman named Daphne. She’s an activist, and highly vocal about it.
Stirling has very few problems, except for the “neighborly gossip” to contend with. Yet one day, a whole lot of problems enter into this rosy community in the shape of the...Virgin Mary. A vision of the devout and beloved figure appears on an underpass (yes, an underpass—not a piece of toast or a potato chip like the Virgin’s Son has in the past). George McBurney, a citizen who has dwelled in Stirling since birth, takes this as a sign and decides to go about building a perfect imitation of Noah’s Ark that will sit across from the State Forest. Because it is a religious icon, he makes sure that the town knows he does not need a permit from them to complete his task.
George was known to say, before he began the project, that Noah was 600 years old when he made his Ark and George is a ripe, young 37 when he gets the idea. In other words, he doesn’t know how to build the Ark, he doesn’t have the Lord whispering in his ear, and has never lived anywhere even remotely close to the sea. The result of these facts is that he’s more than a bit clumsy with a hammer. Upside is, he owns a lot of property, so he has perched a big sign on the land stating: “NOAH’S ARK, COMING SOON TO THIS LOCATION.” Which would actually be completely normal if placed on Route 66, along with the world’s largest ball of twine.
With the Ark coming along, the plot is rich with all types of characters and their own personal beliefs, values and abilities to either support or deflate George’s idea. From ecological and environmental conversations to religious versus business and liberal principles, the reader will delve into this book and not only see different points of view, but enjoy the heck out of the humor that each character displays.
Whether small town or big city, all “folk” will completely get entangled in this terrific, thought-provoking, entertaining read that separates the talkers from the doers. Mary Hutchings Reed has done a spectacular job with this title and it most definitely deserves 5-stars in every category!
Quill says: Clear a place on your bookshelves because this is one that you will constantly turn back to in order to think, learn and laugh out loud.