Beyond the Bougainvillea is the story of Mary Margaret - a smart, strong, loving, no-nonsense young woman - and how she goes from a motherless childhood and being married at sixteen to an abusive man in North Dakota to living in California's northern half (via Los Angeles).
It is also the story of the people who surround her. Her father, her husband, the Gundersons (neighbors who help her escape to California), Doctor Tom, the Malones (Boots, Annie, & Sue Anne), Nina, Cotton Eeagle, and various other people she comes into contact with along the way.
I started reading the book (a review copy I received from the publisher) not too long before heading to bed, thinking I would read a few pages just to get started, then pick it up again the following evening. That was my intention. What happened was that I finished the book in one sitting and, with a couple of hours before my day usually begins, I figured to catch up on sleep some other time.
I have enjoyed reading all of the books I have read in one way or another and I am glad to have read them all (even the ones that weren't entirely to my personal taste for whatever reason), but the books that I have read that wouldn't let go are not that many. Beyond the Bougainvillea is one of them.
It is a saga, yet is a story that has the feeling of sitting by a cozy fire at the same time. The characters - good, bad, and ugly - are splendidly told and, for the most part, have the feeling of people you might know next door or down the street (some of whom you might want to know better, some of them not so much). It is also a story of making do with what you have and mayhap having it turn into something better.
Great debut read.
(Cross-posted to Librarything, Goodreads, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble
The book may be found for purchase at the following locations:
Bell Bridge Books
Barnes and Noble