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The Orange Blossom Special

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When we first meet Tessie Lockhart in 1958, she is pinning her hair into a French twist, dabbing Jean Naté on her wrists, and getting ready to change her life. This widowed mother of a thirteen-year-old has decided it's time for a fresh start for both of them, time to leave behind Carbondale, Illinois, and the pain of loss. Tessie and her daughter move to Gainesville, Florida, where they discover that they aren't the only ones struggling to move forward in the wake of tremendous grief.

Betsy Carter has perfectly captured both the innocence of the 1950s, when even the complex events of our lives seemed somehow easier to endure, and the startling and irreversible changes of the 1960s. A story about the relationships people develop in the face of loss, The Orange Blossom Special introduces us to a remarkable cast of characters, all of whom are tested—and transformed—by the changes in their midst.

In her own touching and funny style, Carter shows us the unexpected ways in which strangers can become family.

From Publishers Weekly

May 09, 2005 – The title of Carter's sympathetic if somewhat contrived debut novel (she's the author of a memoir, Nothing to Fall Back On) refers to the first New York to Miami passenger train, a not-so-subtle metaphor for the American dream and the forward march of history, as the story hurtles from the late '50s and into the '80s. In 1958, comely widow Tessie Lockhart and her seventh-grade daughter, Dinah, uproot from Carbondale, Ill., to Gainesville, Fla., driven by a very American faith in the healing power of a fresh start. There, their lives intertwine with those of Gainesville's powerful Landy family, as Dinah's popular classmate Crystal Landy and her solemn older brother, Charlie, befriend Dinah. When the Landys' house burns down, killing their father, Dinah and Crystal form a special bond, speaking "the same language of loss" across the divide of class and social status. Even Tessie and supercilious matriarch Victoria Landy cement a rocky friendship, and over the years, a tumultuous love blossoms between Dinah and Charlie. Carter's plot skips lightly over the passing decades, which are marked by periodic eruptions of changing culture. Each incident of racial strife or Vietnam tragedy feels forced and representative, though, and as the novel barrels into the late 20th century like the titular locomotive, Carter sacrifices character development in her reach for historical import.
The Orange Blossom Special
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Jun 03, 2005
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • Seller: Workman Publishing Co., Inc.
  • Print Length: 304 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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