Thursday, June 29, 2017

G875 Book Review of Marion Hatley by Beth Castrodale

Name of Book: Marion Hatley

Author: Beth Castrodale

ISBN: 978-1-940782-02-7

Publisher:Garland Press

Type of book: 1931, family secrets, PTSD, teaching, boats, sea, pirates, sea yarns, stories, convention, romance, forbidden romance, strength, strong female protagonists, entrepreneurship

Year it was published: 2017


To escape a big-city scandal, a Depression-era lingerie seamstress flees to the countryside, where she hopes to live and work in peace. Instead, she finds herself unraveling uncomfortable secrets about herself and those closest to her.

In February of 1931, Marion Hatley steps off a train and into the small town of Cooper’s Ford, hoping she’s left her big-city problems behind. She plans to trade the bustling hubbub of a Pittsburgh lingerie shop for the orderly life of a village schoolteacher. More significantly, she believes she’ll be trading her reputation-tainting affair with a married man for the dutiful quiet of tending to her sick aunt. Underpinning her hopes for Cooper’s Ford is Marion’s dream of bringing the daily, private trials of all corset-wearing women—especially working women—to an end, and a beautiful one at that.

Instead, she confronts new challenges: a mysteriously troubled student; frustrations in attempts to create a truly comfortable corset; and, most daunting, her ailing aunt. Once a virtual stranger to Marion, her aunt holds the key to old secrets whose revelation could change the way Marion sees her family and herself.

As her problems from Pittsburgh threaten to resurface in Cooper’s Ford, Marion finds herself racing against time to learn the truth behind these secrets and to get to the bottom of her student’s troubles. Meanwhile, Marion forms a bond with a local war veteran. But her past, and his, may be too much to sustain a second chance at happiness


Main characters include Marion Hatley, a woman of about 32 years of age who is best described as detailed, resourceful and someone who worshiped the ground her mother walked on. Marion isn't conventional and unless it affects her and her mother's business, she could care less about how others perceive her as. I have to say that I admired Marion a whole lot in the story. Ina is a young woman who is trapped in an abusive marriage and who also takes care of Marion's unknown aunt. Ina is likable, talented and resourceful whenever necessary. Walter is Ina's son who doesn't know some truths about himself. He is into boats and sea yarns, and reads to Elder. Elder is a loner who seems to suffer physical and mental wounds from the Great War ( WWI)


Romance isn't the end all


The story is in third person narrative from Marion's, Ina's, Walter's and Elder's points of view, and seems to discuss a lot of serious issues without making the story depressing. The writing, if it makes sense, is both light but deals with heavy subjects. In my opinion as well, the story seems to have a lot going on which made it slightly difficult for me to keep up with the plot. I do not recall if points of views switched with or without a warning. There is also a strong uniqueness about the story in terms of Elder's and Marion's relationship as well as the fact that Elder acts as a positive role model for Walter, and the fact that romance is secondary to Marion's goals and seems to be more as an afterthought rather than something that should consume her.

Author Information:
(From HFVBT)

About the Author

Beth Castrodale started out as a newspaper reporter and editor, then transitioned to book publishing, serving for many years as an editor for an academic press. She has completed three novels: Marion Hatley, a finalist for a 2014 Nilsen Prize for a First Novel from Southeast Missouri State University Press (to be published in April 2017 by Garland Press); Gold River; and In This Ground, an excerpt of which was a shortlist finalist for a 2014 William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Award. Beth recommends literary fiction on her website, and she has published stories in Printer’s Devil Review, The Writing Disorder, Marathon Literary Review, and Mulberry Fork Review. She lives in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

For more information please visit Beth Castrodale’s website. You can also connect with Beth on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


The story is very carefully crafted, much like Marion Hatley's quest to create a perfect corset for women because there is something for everyone in the book be it family secrets, sweet romance, various relationships and very strong female protagonists in unexpected places. The overall arc is Marion Hatley and her life during the year of 1931. I loved the little details that were in the book, and really enjoyed how although it seems like every other book that one reads, it is pretty different in a lot of ways. I do feel that there are some aspects of the story I wasn't able to understand and that I might need to re-read in the future, but other than that, a very engaging and well crafted story.

This is for HFVBT Tours

Blog Tour Schedule

Thursday, June 22
Spotlight at The Book Junkie Reads

Sunday, June 25
Review at Carole’s Ramblings

Tuesday, June 27
Spotlight at A Holland Reads

Thursday, June 29
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views

Friday, June 30
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Monday, July 3
Review at A Chick Who Reads

Wednesday, July 5
Spotlight at A Literary Vacation

Friday, July 7
Guest Post at Susan Heim on Writing

Wednesday, July 12
Interview at Dianne Ascroft’s Blog
Spotlight at CelticLady’s Reviews

Friday, July 14
Review at Jorie Loves a Story
Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Wednesday, July 19
Spotlight at Passages to the Past

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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