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Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin

Wonderland Creek (2011)

by Lynn Austin

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I've had this book on my reading list for awhile. It opens in Illinois 1936 and moves into Kentucky. Alice (Allie) is a librarian who has her nose in a book (and her head in some fantasy cloud!). She loves her stories as much as I do! But her world starts crumbling when her boyfriend breaks up and the library faces budget cuts that force her out of work. When she volunteers to bring five boxes of donated books to Kentucky, she has no idea how such an innocent project will change her life. ( )
  caslater83 | Nov 12, 2016 |
The reasons people read books are perhaps as numerous as the readers themselves. In this novel, Alice generally has her nose in a book. The lives of the fictional characters are so much more interesting than hers. And then, life smacks Alice right in the face. She loses her boyfriend and her job and then leaves her home in Illinois for the foothills of Kentucky to deliver some boxes of books for the poor. Her life will never be the same. She finds adventure greater than those she has read about. Alice gets a volunteer job, rides a horse, breaks the law, helps uncover a murderous plot, makes new friends and finds buried treasure and love. And most amazing of all, goes days without reading a book! This tale of life during the depression will keep you highly entertained with the descriptive setting and likable characters. This is storytelling at its best. ( )
  Maydacat | Mar 9, 2013 |
I listened to the audiobook of Wonderland Creek on a long car trip. In the past, I have very much enjoyed Austin's inspirational romances, and this one, set in Eastern Kentucky and featuring the fascinating packhorse librarians of the WPA era, had great promise. However, I found that a few glaring flaws made the story less than enjoyable for me.

The story is told from the point of view of Allie, a sheltered young woman who lives with her parents in the suburbs of Chicago. She loves books, and her job at the public library is a perfect fit . . . until the library's budget is cut due to the Great Depression, and Allie finds herself at loose ends. Prior to losing her job, Allie had been collecting books and magazines for libraries in Appalachia. When Allie's aunt and uncle announce that they are heading in that direction for a vacation, Allie rides along, planning to deliver the books to the library in Acorn, Kentucky, and to stay for a week or two and help catalog the books. When she arrives in the tiny backwoods town, she is shocked to learn that the librarian she has been corresponding with is a man, there is nowhere in Acorn for her to stay but at the library (which also happens to be the male librarian's home), and that living conditions in the little town do not include such amenities as electricity or indoor plumbing. Worse, the day after her arrival, the town's librarian is shot, and Allie finds herself caught in the middle of a web of deceit and intrigue.

My main problem with this book is that I did not find any of the main characters sympathetic or likable. Allie spends most of the story being Too Stupid To Live, complaining about her situation, being afraid of things, and reading solely as an escape. She grows incrementally stronger over the course of the book, but it was not enough to redeem her in my eyes. I also had some big problems with the plot, and the way other characters trapped and manipulated Allie into staying in Acorn against her will. It made it hard for me to like those characters, or to root for the success of the book's romantic subplot. The dialogue felt stiff and contrived in spots, too. To top it off, the plot meandered along at a leisurely pace, leaving me plenty of time to stew over my dislike of the characters. (In all fairness, this might have been because I was listening, rather than reading -- that can distort my perception of a book's pacing.)

I wish I could recommend this book -- I thought the premise was fascinating, and I am usually a fan of this author. Maybe next time I read one of her books, it will be a more enjoyable experience all around. ( )
  foggidawn | Nov 12, 2012 |
NCLA Review: Lynn Austin has won the Christy Award seven times for her historical novels. Wonderland Creek is equally worthy of such recognition. Alice Ripley lives in a fantasy world of books and reading. Certainly as a librarian she is immersed in a world of books and reading. Alice must step out of the wonderland of books and step in to the real world of Wonderland Creek. Happily-ever-after Alice finds herself in a real-life adventure filled with mystery and romance in the 1930s as she serves a rural community in Kentucky as a “pack-horse librarian.” Far from her home in Illinois and a comfortable life free of poverty, Alice is “stranded” in the backwoods of Kentucky. In so many ways this is a coming of age story. Alice truly grows up and emerges as a strong and independent woman who learns to serve God and others. Lynn Austin is a masterful storyteller creating a story rich in historical detail and remarkable and memorable characters readers will long remember. A discussion guide is included at the end. Rating: 4 —MF ( )
  ncla | Mar 13, 2012 |
Allie lives in her own world, usually with her nose stuck in a a book. However, that world is suddenly shaken up when she loses her job at the local public library because of the Depression and her boyfriend breaks up with her because she lives in a fictional world rather than the real one. Before she was laid off, she had started a drive to send some books to Acorn, Kentucky. Now that she isn't working she decides to deliver the books in person. In the process she becomes more involved in the town than she ever planned and learns about herself at the same time. When the Mack, the town's librarian, is shot she ends up taking over his job, learning about a long-standing feud between two of the families, and possible corruption in the mining company. An easy read without being too coincidental. ( )
  milibrarian | Nov 15, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 076420498X, Paperback)

Lynn Austin Will Delight Readers with Her Winsome Heroine

Alice Grace Ripley lives in a dream world, her nose stuck in a book. But happily-ever-after life she's planned on suddenly falls apart when her boyfriend, Gordon, breaks up with her, accusing her of living in a world of fiction instead of the real world. Then to top it off, Alice loses her beloved job at the library because of cutbacks due to the Great Depression.

Fleeing small-town gossip, Alice heads to the mountains of eastern Kentucky to deliver five boxes of donated books to the library in the tiny coal-mining village of Acorn. Dropped off by her relatives, Alice volunteers to stay for two weeks to help the librarian, Leslie McDougal.

But the librarian turns out to be far different than she anticipated--not to mention the four lady librarians who travel to the remote homes to deliver the much-desired books. While Alice is trapped in Acorn against her will, she soon finds that real-life adventure and mystery--and especially romance--are far better than her humble dreams could have imagined.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Happily-ever-after librarian Alice Ripley unexpectedly finds herself in a real-life adventure filled with mystery and romance in the 1930s as she serves rural communities in Kentucky.

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Bethany House

2 editions of this book were published by Bethany House.

Editions: 076420498X, 0764209191

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

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