THE TALK OF THE TOWN - Fran Baker
Daughters of the Great Depression, Book 1
Blue Ridge, Missouri, 1933
All of Blue Ridge is talking about the return of Luke Bauer, former town heart-throb and bad boy, from prison. He robbed a store and stole a car and earned a seven year incarceration. Roxie Mitchell doesn't understand everyone's concern. Shouldn't Luke be given a second chance? So when he applies to the warehouse, she hires him. Most of the other employees are appalled, but the boss supports Roxie's decision.
Roxie is from a strong, supportive family. Her father owns the local bank, and she convinced him to let her go to school and become an accountant. She worked in St. Louis for a while, but a work-related personal issue made her quit and come home. Against her better judgment, she finds herself too interested in Luke.
Luke came back to Blue Ridge to start over. He plans to be a better person. He could have gone anywhere, but he wants to see his grandfather's land. Although the old man never said so, Luke believes his grandfather was the only person who ever loved him. He mortgaged his land to hire a lawyer for Luke when he was in trouble, wrote to Luke while he was in prison and, unfortunately, died several months before Luke's release. Luke knows the whole town is against him and wishes him gone. Yet Roxie gave him a job, and even though he knows any connection to him would ruin her reputation, his heart feels differently.
THE TALK OF THE TOWN is about starting over, second chances, and human nature, which contains both good and bad. The story is well written, and the Depression Era background adds to the bleakness of the situation, but there is also hope. Luke is an unusual hero who is trying to rebuild his life and overcome his past. He isn't either a hardened man or a dangerous criminal, but he knows how the town views him. Roxie is warm-hearted and believes the present and future actions should count more than the past misdeeds. However, can Roxie and Luke's fellow employees, the community, and her family, ever see Luke as anything other than an ex-con?