Monday, October 7, 2019


Sassafras by Trish Heald
Glasswing Media: 10/1/19
eBook review copy; 322 pages
ISBN-13: 9781733226806

Sassafras by Trish Heald is a recommended story of the plans of newly widowed Champs Noland and his dysfunctional family.

Champs Noland has lost his beloved wife, Pat, to cancer shortly after they moved into a retirement community. His plan is to leave Egret's Pond, or as Champ's calls it, Regret's Pond, and head out, with the urn containing Pat's ashes, to his fishing cabin on the Sassafras River. His children plan for him to stay at the retirement community. He plans to spend the remainder of his life alone, drinking beer and fishing off his rusty boat. Imagine Champs shock when he arrives at his cabin and finds it all redecorated. Apparently his daughter, Laura, has been fixing it up so it could be rented out as an Airbnb - without telling Champs. Things go downhill from here.

Champs will be a memorable character for many readers, especially for some of his plans and actions once he reaches Sassafras River. This is a heart-warming story about a stubborn curmudgeon after the death of his wife and the story of how he and his family develop a relationship with her gone. All the characters are caricatures, representing a type of person, rather than feeling like real flesh and blood people. But, many readers are really going to like this story and will find Champ and all his ways endearing. There is an underlying story about acceptance and how families are what you make them.

This is reminiscent of all the other recent books about old curmudgeons (set off by the excellent A Man called Ove), who are also somewhat lovable in a crusty way. It is well-written and creates a sense of place; however, the crusty-old-man jokes became tiring after a while (and I began to wonder if Heald actually knows any man in their 70's). It is a lighthearted satirical novel, though, and many people will respond to it favorably.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Glasswing Media via Netgalley.

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