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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Aunt Dimity

When you stop and think about it, every book starts out as a blank page. A tabula rasa, waiting for someone to think of an idea, put it into words, and then write it down. I have spent countless hours staring at a blank page in a notebook or a computer screen, waiting for inspiration to strike… I am not as fortunate, like Lori Shepherd, to have an Aunt Dimity to fill up the pages of a blue leather notebook. Which is a dead (pardon the pun if you’re already familiar with the series) giveaway and the key to Nancy Atherton’s amazing mystery series.

Set in the small rural village of Finch in the English Codswolds, each of the now twenty (and counting) novels is a mini-cosmos depicting human nature at its best…and worst. The universal themes that transverse the series and shroud each story include the effects of past actions on the present; family values and traditions; a smattering of English history; and wonderfully uplifting (often moralistic) happy endings. Each is told with flavorful humor and the welcomed elements of surprise plot twists. And, of course, sprinkled with the musings and wisdom of Aunt Dimity, who really isn’t a character so much as a presence…

You see, Aunt Dimity really isn’t Lori’s aunt. But she was her mother’s best friend and who, explained in the first novel Aunt Dimity's Death, has left Lori her a whole lot of money and a honey-colored cottage a mile or so from downtown (if you could call it that) Finch; just over the humpback bridge spanning the Little Deeping River. Lori, of course, is the amateur sleuth who solves and resolves all sorts of askewed circumstances in and around Finch with Dimity’s guidance, written from the vast beyond in a large blue tome using calligraphical script, which only Lori can read...

At first, when explained to me by a dear friend and fellow avid reader, I thought the premise a bit bizarre. I mean, why start a twenty-book series with the death of the eponymous title character? “Makes no sense,” I said. “Try it,” my buddy urged. “Go to the library…try a few…” I took her advice and found a whole shelf devoted to what is now my most favorite whimsy mystery writer, picked up three of her latest and settled in for some delightful binge reading.

Finch is a place I would love to actually live  in right now. Which, in a spiritual and literary sense, I have been for the past three days. It’s a friendly, laid-back village, with everyone being friends, knowing everyone else’s business, but chipping in to help whenever, wherever help is needed. The homes are centuries old; its history ripe with secrets and skeletons; its people delightful, diverse, down-to-earth, and varied. Exactly the sort of folk I’d love to have as neighbors…and their community is my idea of a perfect retreat...the ideal getaway. The author, who lives in Colorado Springs, writes in the first person, using a very chatty-Cathy style. It’s like sitting down with a close friend you haven’t seen for a while and catching up on all the news over a cuppa (or two of Earl Grey).

Atherton’s characters are true-to-life, each with their own quirks and back-stories. While each novel is a standalone enabling you to read them out of the order they were written, the characters do grow and change as the series progresses. I first read three of the latter ones – Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch, Aunt Dimity and the Summer King, Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure -- but now, having been totally  immersed in Finch, I am eager to start the series from the beginning, which I did last night. If, for no other reason, then to see how the residents of Finch progress. And what earlier conundrums Aunt Dimity has guided Lori into solving.

So, if you don’t see or hear from me in a while, it’s because I’ve "moved" to Finch, disappearing into the pages of the Aunt Dimity (the paranormal detective) Mystery Series… meandering through the thoughts and ruminations of Atherton’s and my own imagination. The perfect escape.

Won’t you join me?

Enjoy the read!

2:57 pm est          Comments

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June J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Miss Elmira's Secret Treasure: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
Colonial Theatre: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Roarin' 20s 
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members

Adventures of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Spinach Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A Collection of More Spiritual Poems

We Three Kings

Beauty and the Beast


Noah's Rainbow

Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding Hood



Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She is currently working on her sixth novel.

June's novels can be purchased at amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble,
at the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area,
the Gateway Pharmacy in Phoenixvile, PA

For more information about her musicals, which are also available on amazon.com,