The Romance of Anna Smith and Other Stories
Author: Marjorie Pagel
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2017)
The first six stories in Pagel's collection are memoir, and the last six are fiction. In the first section, we meet Anna Smith, a one-room country school teacher, adored by young girls yearning for romance. Then there’s Aunt Sylvia, a whiz at cribbage, who loves singing old songs and reminiscing about the “good times” as she dances around the kitchen in her walker. In “Whispering Hope,” the author remembers her sister Wanda, who spent her allowance to purchase an old upright piano at a farm auction and inspired Marjorie to play. Other stories recall Billie the Brownie (“You Better Watch Out!”), the May basket tradition in rural Marquette County, and an eighth grade romance (“Lovestruck”). The fiction section offers several laugh-aloud stories: “Charlie-Gone-Missing” (about a runaway golf cart), “Sheila’s Last Streak,” (about a 50-year old woman who sheds her inhibitions and streaks across the local golf course), and “The Post-It Note Wars,” (a light-hearted whodunit that spoofs office politics). Other stories take a more serious look at life events through the eyes of the lead characters: the friend of a grieving wife whose husband had been missing for three years (“Surfaced”); the woman who faithfully writes letters to her murdered friend’s husband, now in prison (“Presumed Guilty”); a little girl caught in the middle of a failing marriage (“When the Bough Breaks”).