Book Review: The Late Bloomers' Club by Louise Miller
“We’re all suffering. I guess I just relate to people who are willing to share more of themselves. A lot of pain in the world could be alleviated if we could all admit when we’re having a hard time.”
I was lucky enough to win an advance reader copy of The Late Bloomers’ Club from Goodreads and Viking Books. This is Louise Miller’s second novel. I absolutely adored her debut novel, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living. The Late Bloomers’ Club also takes place in the lovely town of Guthrie, Vermont. We do see cameos of Livvy and Martin, but The Late Bloomers’ Club focuses on the Huckleberry sisters, Nora and Kit. Nora is the owner of the Miss Guthrie diner, while Kit is a filmmaker who never stays in one place for long. When the town cake lady Peggy passes away, Nora and her sister Kit inherit Peggy’s house and land. The Huckleberry family was Peggy’s neighbor for years before they had to sell the house when their dad got sick. Nora and Kit are very surprised that Peggy left them her house, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Peggy owed back taxes, and the house and land are too big for Nora to keep up by herself. Kit doesn’t live in Guthrie, but when she gets word of the inheritance, she and her boyfriend Max come back to town. Nora and Kit must figure out whether to sell Peggy’s land to HG Corporation, a big-box store, or if they should keep the land even though they cannot pay for it. Nora is unsure about selling because she doesn't think it would be a good fit for Guthrie, while Kit is all for selling and wants to use the profits to fund her film.
Nora has lived her whole life in Guthrie; she is in her early forties and recently divorced from her high school sweetheart Sean. Her whole life is running the Miss Guthrie diner. When Nora gets the news about Peggy’s inheritance, she is baffled because she was never that close with Peggy. Her immediate concern is finding Freckles, Peggy’s dog, who ran away from the car accident that killed Peggy. She is also concerned about what to do about Peggy’s cake orders, which people still expect Nora to take over. Luckily, once Kit and Max show up, Max takes over the baking. Max is such a sweetheart; Kit is one lucky lady.
When HG Corporation sends a corporate representative to convince Nora and Kit to sell Peggy's place to them, Nora finds herself drawn to Elliot. Nora is nervous about her budding relationship to Elliott, having never been with another man other than Sean. But it is clear that Elliot is interested as well. I enjoyed seeing their interactions; they were so cute and sweet, acting like shy teenagers, even though Nora is in her early forties and Elliot just turned fifty. Their attempts to rescue Freckles made me squeal; seriously, they were too precious. Nora worries about being seen around town with Elliot at first, but she quickly realizes that she doesn’t always need to worry about others. It is high time that she puts herself first, and I love that she eventually discovers how to make her passion a priority.
The relationship between Nora and Kit was one of the most interesting parts of the books. Nora is seven years older than Kit, and once their mom passed away from breast cancer, Nora became the de facto mom even as a teenager. As soon as Kit was old enough to leave town, she did. She was bound and determined to be free from responsibility, while Nora was always the responsible one, even putting off her dreams of art school to take care of Kit and their father. Kit knew that Nora somewhat resented Kit growing up, but I like that throughout the years, they’ve overcome their fights and differences. Even though they are two very different people, they both love each other and would do whatever the other one needed.
Louise Miller is such a talented and creative writer. I loved reading about the interesting sculptures of wildlife in the woods behind Peggy’s house. I wonder how Miller came up with the idea for these pieces. I would love to know if they are based on real pieces or if she just wrote them into being. Miller creates stories that I can imagine quite clearly and want to insert myself into. Her descriptions of Guthrie are incredible; I can picture the different tents at the Corn and Tomato Festival and the 4-H goat parade. I just love how real these people and the town feel.
The Late Bloomers’ Club was such a delightful read, and I cannot recommend it enough. It is about finding yourself and your passions no matter how old you are; I love that it's not just Nora figuring that out, but Kit, Max, and Elliot as well. I loved revisiting Guthrie and meeting new characters; I cannot wait to read Miller's next book! I give The Late Bloomers' Club 4 stars!
What other small town novels do you love?