Skip to main content

South of Superior by Ellen Airgood

Ellen Airgood is a diner manager in Michigan, and South of Superior is her debut novel.  This is the kind of novel that reads fast.  A lot happens while at the same time nothing really happens--it's one of those kind of stories.

Chicago raised Madeline Stone still reels from the death of her beloved adoptive mother, Emmy, a year ago.  Abandoned by her mother, rejected by her grandfather, who refused to raise her and from whom she remained estranged for the rest of his life, Madeline accepts an invitation from Gladys, her grandfather's girlfriend, and Glady's sister, Arbutus, to return to tiny McAllaster, Michigan, town of her birth, to assist in caring for Arbutus, who's become crippled by arthritis.

McAllaster is a tiny, one street town on the coast of Lake Superior where less than 1000 people live year round.  The natives struggle to make ends meet while the rich out of towners summer in mansions built on the lake shore that drive up taxes and drive out native McAllaster residents.  The economic situation of the main characters and their fellow natives becomes almost another character in the story as Gladys heads for a legal showdown with wealthy interlopers bent on changing 'how things have been done in McAllaster for generations.'

Upon arriving in McAllaster, Madeline develops an uneasy and difficult rapport with Gladys, who reluctantly doles out bits of Madeline's Stone family history piece by piece.  However, Madeline is there for Arbutus in whom she senses a kindred spirit with Emmy.  There's also a romance or two thrown in there for good measure.

It seems as if the story splits itself between too many plots--there's the conflict between McAllaster natives and the new establishment, Madeline's mystery shrouded family history, the weird tension between Gladys and Madeline, and the romantic subplots.  The story never really decides which one to focus on to the detriment of all the threads running through the story.  As a result Gladys' and Madeline's tension seems manufactured for drama while Madeline's family history reveals no great revelation.  Nevertheless the book has the kind of ending that leaves a smile on the reader's face.

This book is on shelf at the library--check it out the next time you visit!

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


Popular posts from this blog

Broken by Karin Slaughter

Before I begin the formal review there are a few things I need to get off my chest in the wake of finishing this book; I'll do so without giving away too many (or any) spoilers.
The OUTRAGE!: the identity of Detective Lena Adams' new beau; the low depths to which Grant County's interim chief has sunk and brought the police force down with him; agent Will Trent's wife, Angie's, sixth sense/nasty habit of reappearing in his life just when he's slipping away from her. Thank God for small miracles though because while Angie was certainly referred to during the book, the broad didn't make an appearance. One sign that I've become way too invested in these characters is that I'd like to employ John Connolly's odd pair of assassins, Louis and Angel, to contract out a hit on Angie; do you think Karin Slaughter and John Connolly could work out a special cross over?
Hallelujah: Dr. Sara Linton and agent Will Trent are both back. There is no hallelujah for…

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

When the end came, it seemed to do so completely out of the blue, and it wasn't until long afterward that I was able to see that there was a chain of events leading up to it. Some of those events had nothing to do with us, the Morrisons, but were solely the concern of the Pyes, who lived on a farm about a mile away and were our nearest neighbors." from page seven
I must confess that it took me longer than it really needed to in order to finish the novel Crow Lake by Mary Lawson. The entire story is building up to the big catastrophe that forever destroys all the hopes and dreams the Morrison clan ever dared to hope and dream for its future. In the eyes of the narrator, it is even worse than the tragedy of the car crash that claimed both parents' lives one evening on the heels of some good news the family has received and celebrated. Now you can see why I dreaded getting to the end of a book that drips in foreboding like nobody's business. What can be a worse tra…

In The Woods by Tana French

"What I warn you to remember is that I am a detective. Our relationship with the truth is fundamental, but cracked, refracting confusingly like fragmented glass. It is the core of our careers, the endgame of every move we make, and we pursue it with strategies painstakingly constructed of lies ... and every variation on deception. The truth is the most desirable woman in the world and we are the most jealous lovers, reflexively denying anyone else the slightest glimpse of her. We betray her routinely ... This is my job ... What I am telling you, before you begin my story, is this--two things: I crave truth. And I lie." opening lines of In The Woods chapter 1, pages 3-4
In The Woods by Tana French, an Irish writer, is an extremely well-written and well-crafted mystery novel. The downside is that this is French's debut novel, and her website (located at does not offer any insi…