Interested in a heart breaker? Susanna Daniel doesn’t disappoint. I read the 300 page “Stiltsville” in two days, and it reads like a journal. With every detail and plot twist, the reader experiences the reflection of the main character’s life as a grown woman, a wife, a mother, and a friend.
Almost as soon as we are introduced to Francis, we’re introduced to her future as well. On a trip to Miami for a friend’s wedding she meets Marse, a Florida native who befriends Francis. She invites Francis out to Stiltsville, a “floating town” comprised of beach houses on stilts in Biscayne Bay. She meets Dennis DuVal, falls in love, and decides to trade in her life in Atlanta for life with Dennis in Miami. Through ups and downs she makes friends, marries Dennis, and expands their family with Margo. Their marriage ebbs and flows like the waters they grew up in, and just like the ever-changing Miami, the DuVal’s do what they can to weather the storms and soak in the sunshine.
Daniel has created a heart wrenching story with tales of growing pains, love, and loss. The novel, narrated from 1969 to 2004, makes parallels with the current events from Miami, and though it’s the perfect read for the beach, it isn’t as “fluffy” as I thought it would be. The recollections from the main character’s memories were omissions that are believably personal and honest. Towards the end, coming into almost present time, I couldn’t believe how much affection I as a reader held for this couple. If you were into “The Notebook”, or other similar novels, this one is right up your alley.
Also, just on a personal note: As someone who is a very sentimental person, many parts of this story made me reflect on my personal relationships with friends and family. Where Stiltsville is this family’s home away from home, I too have a similar place in my family. Being just past Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t help but wish that I could have been up to (what we call) Camp, enjoying the unofficial end to the summer. Luckily, one of my best friends from home came down to bring me some pleasant weather and to keep my mind off this homesickness. It’s these people in my life that I am forever grateful for, and the memories I’ve made with them. I’m pretty sure Daniel would agree that her novel is a great example of these relationships, and I’d call it a sign that I just so happened to pick this novel up the day after my friend headed back home.