Small Blessings was such a feel-good read. It made me feel like I was floating on a piece of fluffy cloud, just drifting across the sky and looking down yonder on the mountains and the forests and with little birds flying around me. It made me feel content. There are some weird things that happen in this story, all of which I kind of took in stride. I was scared that the OTP ship would not sail, but it did, after much goading and pushing from the supporting characters. ⛵
Tom Putnam is a small-town English professor who lives with his slightly deranged wife, Marjory, and his mother-in-law, Agnes. At the college bookstore one evening, Tom meets Rose Callahan, the new hire… and the first person that Marjory voluntarily socializes with in a long time. To their dismay, Tom and Rose feel (inappropriately) attracted to each other; what’s worse, soon after Marjory invited Rose to have dinner with the Putnams, Marjory got into a tragic accident. The surprises don’t end there – Tom soon receives a letter from his former lover and discovers that he’d fathered a son, Henry, who is heading his way to live with him.
The cast of characters in Small Blessings is very diverse in terms of personality and “issues” – Tom is a pretty passive guy who stays with his wife because he feels sorry for her; Marjory is quite neurotic and prone to anxiety; Agnes is the only reliable and strong-willed person in their household. Rose is friendly but has a problem with commitment; Russell – Tom’s fellow professor friend – who is kind of arrogant and loud, and Iris – another fellow professor – who is rude and obnoxious most of the time. And little Henry is adorable! His Harry Potter obsession is awesome.
The one true pairing (OTP) is nice in that the two (which two? You’ll have to read it to see!) are comfortable with each other and it feels like a mellow relationship where the dude isn’t showing off and where the gal isn’t overly emotional. It was reaaaallly slow though, and at times I’d given up on the ship sailing, but it did sail, it did it did! It was a glorious day when I finished reading the book (because that’s when the ship sailed – at the very end of the story fml).
Plot-wise, it was kind of weird… unexpected things happened, but as long as I didn’t dwell too much on it, it felt OK. And the characters took these strange happenings pretty calmly, so I thought I was the one overreacting! The romance was definitely a big part of the story, but another major theme was familial and friendship bonds. Small Blessings showed me that people don’t need to be biologically related to care deeply about each other; an example of this was the relationship between Tom and Agnes, whose interactions felt natural from the very beginning of the book through to the very end.
Small Blessings is a strangely peaceful book, for all the dramatics in the plot. I really liked the diverse cast of characters and their interactions, and each of them grew on me, even if I didn’t like them at the beginning of the story. I think sometimes quiet books don’t get much love because they move slowly and are thus not as exciting, but patience, young grasshopper! You might be pleasantly surprised. 😉