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The Sweetheart Season

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  60 reviews
As a rebellious daughter of the sixties recalls the year her mother played baseball in 1947, two luminous stories begin to unfold in America's heartland, one lived and one imagined. . . .
Paperback, 384 pages
Published February 10th 1998 by Ballantine Books (first published 1996)
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeThe Shipping News by Annie ProulxFried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie FlaggOur Town by Thornton WilderThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Novels About Small-Town Life
34th out of 140 books — 42 voters
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakAgainst The Tide by John F. HanleyThe Last Boat by John F. HanleyThe Orphans of Dachau by Anthony HulseThe Winds of War by Herman Wouk
Best 1940s Historical Fiction
157th out of 187 books — 252 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 676)
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Dear Maggie,

I have been wanting to read a book for the longest time, but the ones I have are either too brief or deep. Could you advise me on which book I could pick up?

- Bored in Manila

Dear Bored in Manila,

It seems to me that you would be better off reading magazines as they provide readers with light topics that books could not give you. You see, the intensity of issues within a story are very relative. What may be a serious topic for me might be a shallow matter for you. Therefore, I could n
I tried, and failed, to bond with any of the characters in this story. I should have loved it: it's set in the mid-west immediately after WWII, and there's baseball! But the story fell flat. It kept bouncing around in time, from present to past to future, back to the present again, with lots of hinting and an announcement at the beginning of the story that it was told by two liars (the narrator as well as her mother, whose story it was). There was a lot of talking about the baseball team, then f ...more
Karen uses a first person, present tense frame around a past tense narrative that often sounds omniscient--a terrific risk that I love, getting omniscient effects out of a first person narrator, a gambit the novel shares with one of my favorites, The Great Gatsby. This approach is sometimes referred to as inference; it's the narrator taking on an omniscient mode as he or she infers what might have been going on in another character's head. If it works, the reader can actually forget it's a first ...more
I loved this book. The writer obviously loved her characters, faults and all, in a way that reminded my of John Irving or Ann Tyler. The prose was clear and engaging. And the story, about a dying mill town after WW II, really gave me a sense of that time.
I wish I could give this book more than five stars. I absolutely loved it. It has great characters, a great storyline and lots of passion. This book was the second i have read by karen joy fowler, the first been the jane austen book club which i found to be the opposite of this book as it seemed to lack interesting characters and storyline, maybe because i don't know enough about miss austen herself. So after waiting a very long time i plucked up the courage to read this book and it was refreshi ...more
This was a well-written novel set in the late 1940s immediately following WWII. In a small mill town, all the boys have gone off to war and don't seem to want to come home when it's over, leaving a crop of young single girls without boys to date or marry. The mill's owner and town benefactor decides that a traveling girls baseball team is the answer for his maiden employees social woes (and for advertising his breakfast cereal).

I thought this would be a kind of "League of Their Own" kind of stor
After the first hundred pages of this book, I told my sister that I liked it because of the "League of Our Own" theme and the Empire Fallsesque lyricism about life in a small town. I added that it also had a post-war Homefront feel, and then realized that none of these associations were based on the actual merit of this particular book - only on its ability to evoke and remind me of other things.

But I did end up liking the story itself quite a bit. The characters and the dynamics of the town wer
Would have been two stars, because the writing was decent, but I read the author interview at the back of the book and the author didn't like A League of Their Own because she thought it was "safe" and didn't touch on what the league meant to women, etc. Humph. Perhaps it's unfair of me to take off a star for that, but A League of Their Own is one of my all-time favorite movies, and the characters in the movie were so much more diverse and complex and interesting than any of the characters in Th ...more
So what exactly is this book about? It's set after the Second World War in the small town of Magrit whisch is home to a cereal mill which turns out America's most popular breakfast cereal and produces one of America's most popular housekeeping magazines, all presided over by the fictional construct that is Maggie Collins. The young women work together in the scientific kitchen, experimenting with recipes and housekeeping tips and putting a nickel in the jar every time they refer to Maggie as som ...more
Told by her daughter, this is the story of one woman's experience on an all-girl baseball team after WWII. The tiny town of Magrit is home to Margaret Mill, producer of Sweetwheats, the first puffed, sugar coated breakfast cereal. As the men from Magrit refused to come home after the war, Henry Collins' mill is staffed by the young women they left behind. The ever-inventive Collins decides to increase advertising and help his workers find husbands by creating and sponsoring the team. He calls th ...more
This was the novel I immediately started after finishing Lanzarote, and it’s a much better rail-journey read. The title refers to an all-female baseball team formed during the late 1940s in order to promote a brand of cereal. The women all work at the mill where the cereal is made – it’s the only industry in the town – and the novel is about them, their lives, the history of the town, and the events leading up to the team’s single season, and its after-effects. Not, you would have thought, my us ...more
Like other reviewers, I enjoyed this book. However, like other reviewers, I also found this book difficult to get into and I found the ending strange. Fowler uses the daughter of the main character as the narrator. This is an interesting device. It means that there is a contemporary commentary on the historical setting, but it also mixes first person and third person narrative. The shifting point of view does not happen a lot, but at times it disjoints the story.

I do think the story was a good o
An absorbing story about girls coming of age during World War II in a small north-midwest town. It's hard to create an ingenuous character who doesn't come off as an annoying goody-goody, but Karen Joy Fowler succeeds with the very human and likable Irini. Irini is the daughter of a widower, one of many young women who work for the local grain factory and play together on one of the all-girls' softball teams that were popular during the era. The ending is bizarrely at odds with the rest of the b ...more
I really like Karen Joy Fowler. She's very funny and accessible in person. And her characters in this book are pretty accessible too. The story kind of meanders nicely along, kind of like in Empire Falls by Richard Russo, and then WHOA, this book is about that? I guess I like to have a stronger sense of plot undercurrents before the last quarter of a book. I prefer "Sarah Canary" which is nutty, and whimsical, and weird, but with characters that are also accessible and are definitely more intere ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Cary added it
This is her first book, and isn't held together perhaps as well as her later ones, another terrible title, but it's clever and witty leading to an interesting conclusion.
Maybe it was because I was distracted by the holiday, but I couldn't really get into this book. Fowler used the daughter of the main character as the narrator, so she was frequently able to highlight the differences between modern and post-WWII life. I thought this was an interesting device, but the story was extremely slow-paced (of course, it was about baseball, so maybe that was appropriate). The numerous flashbacks distracted from the forward flow of the narrative and, ultimately, the story ...more
I kept expecting the various story lines to come together in one glorious final chapter....I was disappointed.
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Another lovely book by Karen Joy Fowler. It's hard to categorize this book - it's sweet, funny, not entirely realistic yet very human.
I love Fowler's writing both here and in the 'Jane Austen book club', her sentences are just lovely, and she creates wonderful characters. Unfortunately her storytelling isn't up to the same levels, and I've walked away disappointed with both books. I gave this book a try thinking maybe she just didn't pull it all together in 'Jane Austen,' and again I really liked the beginning and the setting of baseball, baking, and a strong female character, but she lost me by the end.
Supposedly, the story is about a group of women who live in a small town. After the war, none of the young men returned and now there are no prospects for the town's women. So they form a baseball team to help them meet men.

This is not however the story. In my opinion, it's more like a group of odd short stories, with the aforementioned theme kind of the setting more than being the actual story.

I give it a meh rating.
This book has received accolades and was a Ballantine Reader's Circle selection...but perhaps akin to Anne Tyler and Carol Shields, I just didn't find the writing very interesting. She introduces a great number of characters, many of whom are inconsequential, and spends a great deal of time describing the mill town of Magrit.

I read to page 52, and I didn't really care about any of the characters, so I've decided to give up on this book.
Wow. You can read this as if it's just another beach read, but it's so much more. A comparison is made to Garrison Keillor, and it does have that empathy for a small town in heartland USA several decades ago. And it has that cozy humor. But it also has lots of provocative social commentary if you want to pay attention to it. I just loved it and want more. I've already ordered her short story collections to add to Mt. TBR.
I pictured this book being a lot like "A League of their Own" about women playing baseball. Whoops. Slow, confusing start, gave way to town politics, an advice column, cool ghost and finally about 2/3 through, some actual action. I finally cared a small shard for the characters, only for the very end to be sort of like when you watch a movie & at the end they give the short snippet fast forward in writing.
This is the WORST book I have ever read in 50 years of reading. The story never did come about. IMO it was nothing like the description on the library promo that caused me to check out the e-book. I forced myself to finish thinking that something would make it worth the time spent. UGH, it never did. Oh well, there are too many good books out there to waste any more thought or electrons on this one.
I loved the description of this - a group of women in MN, working at a test kitchen that sounded like an early version of Betty Crocker, playing softball in their spare time. However, I just didn't feel it delivered, and I have reluctantly come to that conclusion about all her books (although others certainly like her style). I lent this to a woman named Anne at my old job who never returned it! Boo.
Shannon Reed
Jun 20, 2007 Shannon Reed rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: literary fans of chick lit
Shelves: readit
I liked this book quite a bit. The plot never really quite kicks in and gets all "plot-y" - I'd be hard pressed to say what the inciting incident is, for example - but it is still gently funny and thoughtful. Especially liked the way it's mostly about a pack of young women, with just a few men thrown in. It's a bit Garrison Keillor-esque, but definitely more feminine.
This was a bit like a John Irving novel - where the point of the story wasn't necessarily the plot - more the feeling. I found the narrator's voice a little grating at times, but overall enjoyed it. The sweetheart characters were a bit difficult to keep apart though. I also felt a little let down by the end of the book, like something big was missing.
This book was a little strange in my opinion. It is the story of a nineteen year old girl who lives is a small town and works at the local test kitchen. It sounds like a nice little story, but it turns out to be just strange. Nothing really makes much sense and it just rambles on. It was okay, but nothing spectacular.
Sep 07, 2008 Lauren rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
This was a cute book. From what I remember, this really played upon the strength of character and how the main character's life was difficult growing up. There was something about working in a cereal factory, and then playing baseball, but mainly it was a very sweet story.
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What's The Name o...: cooking school during 1940's fiction softball team [s] 16 164 Oct 03, 2013 02:04PM  
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I was born in Bloomington, Indiana. I was due on Valentine's Day but arrived a week early; my mother blamed this on a really exciting IU basketball game. My father was a psychologist at the University, but not that kind of psychologist. He studied animal behavior, and especially learning. He ran rats through mazes. My mother was a polio survivor, a schoolteacher, and a pioneer in the co-operative ...more
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