Miss Dimple Picks a Peck of Trouble
“A picture of ordinary lives living in extraordinary times.”
Mignon Ballard clearly loves her fictional Elderberry, a small town about an hour from Atlanta, Georgia. In her Miss Dimple series, the chaos of World War II reigns, so the characters lean on each other even beyond what small towns can demand. Folks help each other and in the summer, in Georgia, peaches must be picked. Long time schoolteacher Miss Dimple Kilpatrick and her colleagues pitch in.
18-year-old Prentice Blair is working at the edge of the orchard in The Peach Shed, putting her wages toward college. When she disappears, the town pulls together to find out what happened.
This is a series full of wome—the women left behind while men went to fight and the loneliness of wondering if the war will ever end. Ms. Ballard takes full advantage of the southern custom of evocative names. In this book readers come to know Prentice Blair, Delia Varnadore, Hardin Haynesworth Kirkland, Elberta Stackhouse, and Leola Parker.
In gothic fashion there’s also Hattie “Mad Hattie” McGee, who swears she witnessed something bad. But she also believes she is Scarlett O'Hara, that Nazi spies are everywhere, and that she knows the location of Confederate gold.
So maybe her accounts are a mite suspect.
Prentice’s beau seems the most likely culprit. Clay Jarrett was outspoken about not wanting Prentice to go away to college, but violence seems very out of character for him.
A repeating cozy series runs the risk of the fine line between familiarity and boredom, but Mignon Ballard straddles it well. The depiction of folks canning their green beans while sharing the dread of having the man on the bicycle stop at your house with a telegram, flat out shine.
A picture of ordinary lives living in extraordinary times.