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Small Blessings

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,751 Ratings  ·  633 Reviews
From debut novelist Martha Woodroof comes an inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had.

Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, ma
ebook, 320 pages
Published August 12th 2014 by St. Martin's Press (first published August 1st 2014)
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Kat As the book raises issues of death, mental illness, affairs, and paternity, I would not recommend this to children. Mature teens certainly could…moreAs the book raises issues of death, mental illness, affairs, and paternity, I would not recommend this to children. Mature teens certainly could handle it.(less)
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Angela M
Jun 30, 2014 Angela M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading the description of this book and when I first started reading it, I thought it was going to be just about bunch of quirky people in this small college town whose lives were going to change because of the little boy who enters their lives. I thought it would be funny and maybe a little sad and that not much more would happen than he would become part of this quirky little world. I was wrong – not about the fact that these people are a bit quirky and not about how Henry changed their ...more
I won a copy of “Small Blessings” by Martha Woodroof, through the Goodreads Giveaway Contest.

This debut novel, will wrap its arms around your heart, with strong characters and surround you in love and peace. This book will stay with you long after you finish the book. I was totally taken with this book.

The writing is crisp and clear, and the prose will make you laugh and cry.

Tom Putnam, forty four years old, is an English College Professor, a lover of Shakespeare, who lived in a small college t
Aug 06, 2014 Q2 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book FIVE stars because even though I had critiques, I couldn't help but love it. There's something about how the characters were written that seemed so vibrant and full of life to me, I couldn't help but root for them and I desperately wanted everything to turn out happily for everyone! So, five stars, because even though some stuff was just flat-out CRAZY, somehow it didn't matter to me. :)

This is a story about a college community, the people in it, and basically the trials these
Diane S ⛄
Aug 11, 2014 Diane S ⛄ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When Rose first arrives, a thirty-something unmarried woman, at the college bookstore where she has been hired, she manages to charm everyone in her path. I had a few inner doubts, wondering if this book was going to be one of those unrealistic all sweetness and light novels. As I read on though all those doubts disappeared. These are all characters who on the surface seem to be doing quite well, but underneath are dealing with the same hopes and fears many of us have to face.

An unexpected death
Jul 15, 2014 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Small Blessings is entirely predictable in a general sense, but completely unpredictable when it comes to the specifics. Take a gentle, decent Shakespeare professor, the son he never knew he had, and a free-spirited bookseller, a beautiful western Virginia setting, and you've got a heartwarming novel with a clear path to a happy ending, right? But the professor is married, the son isn't quite what he seems, and the bookseller...well, okay, she's pretty much as advertised. The plot makes a number ...more
Sep 06, 2014 Brian rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had a great deal of trouble connecting with this book and I can't put my finger on it. The characters were somewhat interesting and very quirky, and the writing was good but for some reason the book just dragged and dragged. The premise is that a man who is married to a very quirky woman finds out that he may have fathered a child during an affair. That's the extent of the plot. There are a bunch of side characters as well who are pretty well developed. This was certainly not chick lit, but fo ...more
**Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin's Press for providing this in exchange for an honest review**

I have a confession to make. I could not read the ARC which St. Martin's was kind enough to provide for me. I tried. I really did. I must have picked it up and put it down no less then 4 times. I just couldn't do it. It bored me to tears. I accepted it was a DNF and moved on. While I was at the library last week, I saw the audio for this on the shelf and figured "what the hell, I'll give it one more

Small Blessings: A Novel by Martha Woodroof

This is another one of those charming reads, about quirky people and how they cope in dealing with different circumstances and life choices.

The setting is the campus of a large college where many of the teachers and professors reside with their families in the small private community within the college grounds, making them neighbours as well as friends and colleagues.

The one place on these campus grounds where everyone feels united and comfortable that
Penny (Literary Hoarders)
4-4.5 stars. This book charmed me to no end. First of all, thank you very much to Goodreads, I won this book in the Goodreads First Reads program. This book has been compared to, or could be compared to, based on its description, "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry". Some have loved it, some have hated that one. Small Blessings however seems to hide in Fikry's shadow. It really deserves to be placed ahead of it (do I really know that? I don't, as I haven't read Fikry yet.) Small Blessings is an incr ...more
Jun 29, 2014 Becky rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Feeling BLESSED. Love , Love, LOVE this book!!
Small Blessings summary and message -- Life is messy. People are basically good, smart and doing their best. Trust that everything will work out. Be HAPPY!
Get your hands on a copy or order this for your book club RIGHT AWAY. (You can thank me later.)
Guaranteed to warm your heart and affirm that life really IS good.
Nov 07, 2014 Patty rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was a little different. Tom Putnam is married to Marjorie but she is mentally ill and her inability to deal with any of the simple basics of life. This has curtailed not only her life but Tom’s and her mother’s who also lives with them. Tom has remain devoted to his 20 year marriage except for one affair 10 years ago. They all live rather quiet, staid lives on the college campus where Tom teaches Shakespeare. Then in the course of a couple of days Marjorie goes out to a college party, ...more
When I discover a book that speaks to the truth of my heart, it's a book I keep. Someday, I will want to go back, reread it, and see if it still resonates with me. Martha Woodroof's debut novel, Small Blessings, is one that brought so many moments of recognition. Her phrasing is exquisite. Her characters ring with life. It's a book that will be on my favorite list at the end of the year. And, I'm not going to be able to do it justice because a summary will not spell out the beauty of the lives i ...more
Syrie James
Jul 20, 2014 Syrie James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel hooked me from the first chapter and surprised me in so many ways. Right off the bat there's an event I did not see coming, that sends the story in a completely new direction. From that point on, even though the ending was easy to predict, the plot takes many twists and turns which kept me involved and interested. I loved the main characters, Tom, Rose, and Agnes. They were very well drawn and they each went on an important life journey, growing and changing by the end--which to me is ...more
Maria Carmo
I hadn't enjoyed a book this much in a long time!
I loved the plot, the larger than life characters (especially Agnes tattle!) and the endearing story of Henry...
The book has an exquisite sense of humour and is so interesting that one has just to keep going! Close to the end it is really hard to put it away in order to deal with "life", while you keep wondering how it will all end!

Loved it.

Maria Carmo,

Lisbon 23 September 2015.
Minty McBunny
Full disclosure: I went to the college the one in this book is based on and the author worked in the campus bookstore at that time. So having known the author and seeing little glimpses of my college life in the book may have colored my judgement a bit.

That said, I think any lover of serious, non-fluffy chick lit would enjoy this novel. It is beautifully written with rich descriptive language and fully fleshed out, realistic, lovable quirky characters. I truly enjoyed every moment.
Sep 23, 2014 Barbara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chic-lit, fast-read
3.5 stars: This is an intelligent chick-lit novel. It’s beautifully written, sweet, and a joy to read. The chick-lit themes are there. It melts into being a bit sappy; yet as a reader, you enjoy the melt. Woodroof is talented and writes beautiful prose.

“Small Blessings….taking sustenance from the simple pleasures of everyday things…when you got down to actual survival, that was the big picture.” The novel is full of homespun wisdom such as this. Also, another favorite: Worrying meant you were t
Anne Slater
Oct 17, 2014 Anne Slater rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What did I think? the essay part opener asks. Do I like cream (real cream)-filled doughnuts with a slice of Canadian bacon? Do I like full-bodied coffee (no cream)? Do I like fresh blueberries?

This was the most emotionally-satisfying comfort and humor books I've read in DECADES. It WILL become a movie. I promise you.

The opening, introducing us to Tom and Marjory, is kind of grey with the sadness of Marjory's obvious mild but ever-present mental illness.

There is sudden BANG (I don't want to give
Three and a half stars.

I have to admit, I was a little dubious about this book initially, especially when two of the characters are so summarily and conveniently dispatched early in the novel to allow a romance to bloom between the two main characters, Tom and Rose. And there were a lot of other improbable, coincidental plot twists here that stretched the book's credulity. But despite all that, I eventually gave in and got totally engaged with the characters and the setting, a small women's col
Cynthia Archer
Aug 05, 2014 Cynthia Archer rated it really liked it
The word that comes to mind on finishing this book is delightful. This was not a complex or complicated story, which to me felt like a breath of fresh air. Many of the books that I have read recently have multiple twists and turns, complex and confusing characters, and plots that jump around from present to past and back, often without warning. "Small Blessings", as the name recalls, is a story that incorporates people with the ability to see the good around them, even when things don't seem to ...more
Agnes Palasthy
It is a lovely story beautifully written. Anyone who likes Anne Tyler, Alison Lurie and similar authors will love this novel. I am really grateful for the opportunity to be able to read it through NetGalley.

It was the front cover that first caught my attention. I loved it as a piece of art in itself. Then I read the blurb and I was caught. 'Wow, it sounds a great book', I thought. And it really was.

The story takes place at the campus of a small university in the USA, somewhere in the south. I th
Mar 08, 2015 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Martha Woodroof has created some memorable and beguiling characters in her debut novel, “Small Blessings.” There’s gentle Tom, for years uncomplainingly accepting of his wife’s fragility and mental instability. Upon meeting Marjory he had recognized “an exquisite china doll, immensely chippable”; marrying her was like taking in a wounded animal, one which Tom in his ever kind heart naively hoped to heal. Henry is the 10-year-old son Tom never knew he had, a sudden arrival in Tom’s life, a boy wi ...more
*I won this book from goodreads first reads.

When I rate a book it's often based less on a critical analysis and more on how much I could get lost in it while I was reading. For instance, Twilight has a much higher rating than it really deserves because as awful as it is, while I was reading it I got so caught up in what was going on I didn't notice what a horribly abusive relationship it was and how extremely anti-climatic half the books were. Until I finished reading and actually started thinki
Aug 13, 2014 Vox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely, warm, witty, beautifully crafted novel.

What Tom Putnam's life lacks in passion and comfort it makes up for in predictability. His awkward and fragile wife Marjory may not bring much to the marriage, aside from a ball buster of a mother, but she's his, for better or for worse. Tom knows how to handle and approach Marjory, experience borne of lessons learned the hard way. His brief affair with a poet-in-residence did him no matrimonial favors, so now, ten years later, he indulges hi
JoAnne Pulcino

Martha Woodruff

This is an absolutely charming and delightful book that I truly loved! This debut novel introduces readers to a new author who can present quirky characters that are very real and become someone you care about, and she can touch your heart in ways you can’t imagine.

In a small college town, Professor Tom Putnam and his mother in law share the burden of caring for his wife and her daughter, Marjory Putnam who has suffered a nervous collapse and is a recluse. That is
Jeannie Walker
Jul 26, 2015 Jeannie Walker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blessings (even small ones) come in many disguises.
Sometimes far-reaching predicaments happen in our lives (like they did in this novel to some of the characters), but that doesn’t mean the change will be a train wreck.
Even though some of us try hard to be perfect, nobody is perfect. We can be wise but also very foolish.
Happiness doesn’t just happen - it is something we have to work at. It’s a lot easier if we believe in blessings that will come our way.
This is a down to earth novel with charact
Joanne Dobson
May 02, 2015 Joanne Dobson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know what it's like when you don't want a book to end because it will be like closing a door in the faces of people you've come to love? Well, that's my experience with Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof. It's a quiet, lovely book in the tradition of Anne Tyler or Barbara Pym, about intelligent, sensitive people who've lived lives less full than they might have been, and THEN ... Tom Putnam, an English Professor in a loveless marriage, and Rose Callahan, a rolling stone who's come to work in ...more
Jul 18, 2014 Shari rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a lovely first novel about finding happiness when and where you least expect it. It also examines what, exactly, constitutes family and while doing that reminded me of the best of Anne Tyler. I highly recommend it.
Sep 15, 2014 Margo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I had to stop myself from reading it too fast so I wouldn't finish it too quickly. I wanted to linger over every moment of the characters relationships with each other.
Jun 06, 2014 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, netgalley
I received an advanced copy of this book from St. Martins Press through NetGalley.

Tom has been muddling his way through life, without thinking and without feeling, just trying to get through one day at a time. He, along with his mother-in-law Agnes, is trying to take care of his mentally unstable wife. Marjory, who is paranoid and incapable of going outside of the house on her own, has been Tom’s responsibility for the past twenty years. One day an encounter with a cheerful and optimistic new em
Jul 25, 2014 Kaye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm always a sucker for small town stories. You know you're going to meet some off-beat characters, and there are a gracious plenty of them living in this small college community. When a writer is able to bring them to life, rather than just drawing another caricature, it's especially satisfying. I loved every word of this delightful, heartwarming novel which never drifted into the "too sweet" side of storytelling. Miss Woodroof managed to throw some surprises at us along the way, and kept me on ...more
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letter from Retesia 2 7 Jan 22, 2016 09:45AM  
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  • The Resurrection of Tess Blessing
  • Five Days Left
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  • The Moment of Everything
  • L'Âme du monde
  • Accidents of Marriage
  • Reunion
  • La vida cuando era nuestra
  • Debaixo de Algum Céu
  • All the Winters After
  • This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!
  • Telling the Bees
  • The Dead Wrestler Elegies
Author of SMALL BLESSINGS, on sale 8/12/14, MARTHA WOODROOF was born in the South, went to boarding school and college in New England, ran away to Texas for a while, then fetched up in Virginia. She has written for NPR,, Marketplace and Weekend America, and for the Virginia Foundation for Humanities Radio Feature Bureau. Her print essays have appeared in such newspapers as the New York Tim ...more
More about Martha Woodroof...

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“Worrying meant you were trying to control something you had no business trying to control” 3 likes
“Children needed space more than overprotection. Parents who hovered were meeting their own needs, not their children’s.” 3 likes
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