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The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  55 ratings  ·  31 reviews
"You've seen the woman in the photo. The woman screaming ..."

So begins the story of Molly Valle, who at forty-eight thinks she knows all that life has to offer a single, middle-aged woman - namely, men’s dismissal and disrespect. But when handsome activist John Pressman arrives in her Mississippi hometown, he challenges her self-doubt along with nearly everything else in
Kindle Edition, 185 pages
Published November 7th 2019
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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Whispering Stories
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed on

The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen an excellently crafted love story, one that is also very different from the norm. The plot is about two older people falling in love. Molly Valle a teacher and John Pressman a full-time civil rights activist. Whilst this is mainly a love story we also hear how life was very different in America in the 1960s particularly when it comes to racism.

I really enjoyed this book the fact that Molly and John fall in love when they
One of the best romances I've ever read. And it's as much a romance, maybe even more so, than a story set during the Civil Rights era. If you're OK with that (reading primarily a romance), that's fine. If you're not, well, there are plenty of other, nonfiction books about the Civil Rights era I can recommend.

Now, as a romance, the book works. Why? Because while it does have magical, mythical aspects, the romance is set in reality. Characters begin as being middle-aged and the heroine, Molly, ent
Saradia Chatterjee
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I don't even know how to begin writing down my thoughts on this book. I feel like I've got so much to say. To be honest, it has overwhelmed me, left me speechless. I knew Magnolia wouldn't be your average love story because the title itself hints at obscurity. But even though I had high expectations from the book, I didn't think it would affect me like it did. This is, without an iota of a doubt, my favorite love story in the fictional universe. In fact, I would go so far as to say it is the bes ...more
A.M. Nestler MSW
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Quick Take

The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen is an unexpected Southern delight with a romance that goes down as smooth as sweet tea. You don't want to miss this treasure!

Tell Me More

I am a sucker for any novel that features a Southern storyline, so I knew from the get go that The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen was right down my alley. However, this beautiful novel came to mean so much more to me, and I am proud to announce that it has made it on my Top Ten Books of All Time list - which is quite a f
M.T. DeSantis
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, historical
I received this book for anhonest review. All Opinions expressed are my own.

See more on my site.
2020 seems to be my year of getting “un-jaded.” I’ve found new light and new adventure everywhere, despite primarily being stuck at home with this whole pandemic thing. Books have also found their way into this mindset, and The Magnolia that Bloomed Unseen is no exception. It took me a bit to get into this story, but once I did, the level of love and adventure just clicked with me. It’s a beautiful ta
Heidi | Paper Safari Book Blog
This is a book I didn't see coming. I really wasn't sure what to expect and I actually put off reading it. Now as I wipe the tears from my eyes and wonder how puffy they are and how blotchy my face is I can honestly say this is one of the best most authentic love stories I have ever read. The writing style is easy but it pulls you in when you least expect it. It isn't sunshine and roses, it isn't a happily ever after but of a love that changes you from inside. A love that helps you see the world ...more
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Magnolia that Bloomed Unseen is a beautiful love story set in Civil Rights era Mississippi. While this story is undoubtedly a love story, it's Smith's ability to bring the emotion and setting alive that really sets it apart from its peers. The book is framed as Molly telling her story to one of her old students, something that I'm not normally a fan of, but the device works well here, packing no punches. I would definitely recommend this as a fantastic read.

*I received this book free from Ne
Dora Okeyo
Jun 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A heartwarming read this one is. You'll find yourself wanting to stand up for what's right no matter what comes your way and how refreshing it is at a time as this, reminding us that we can always take action and stand by our acts for good.
Thanks Netgalley for the eARC it took me a while to read this book, still I am glad that I did.
Emily Jane
Aug 10, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
*Thank you NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

- 3/5 -

I don't know if I'm just a bit too cynical to enjoy an overly romantic book but the story of Molly and John's romance was a bit too much for me and felt far from reality (of course the ending of their romance is a different story). I enjoyed the start of the book and the characters we were introduced to, but the civil rights movement quickly became the backdrop to an over-the-top romance between two white c
Indie Book Reviews
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An unusual love story that goes in some interesting directions.

The expression “Life begins at 40” was proving far from accurate for small town teacher Molly Valle in 1960s Mississippi. Feeling like she’s no longer noticed by men, it feels like there’s every chance she’ll be spending the rest of her days in quiet solitude. Then civil rights campaigner John Pressman appears on the scene, and Molly is swept into an amazing adventure which shows her that both romance and finding real purpose in life
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Somehow, just from reading the title, I felt melancholic. The main story of A magnolia that blooms unseen takes place in Mississippi during the 60’s, having the civil rights movement as the backdrop for a bittersweet romantic story. Somehow, I’m afraid Molly would say “it’s not just bittersweet, you didn’t understand the real message!”. – Okay Molly, I feel I did get it, but it requires the right mindset to see beyond the feels.

You may ask “who is Molly?”. She is our main character and a schoolt
Apr 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen by Ray Smith

“The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen,” is a captivating story of romance, self-discovery, and strength of character.

The prologue is RC recalling how he first met Molly Valle, an activist for the Civil Rights Movement. He was a high school student who interviewed her for a class report, for which she gave him a Cliff Notes version and he received an A. Thirty years pass and out of the blue RC gets a phone call from Molly. She’s 103 years-old and is ready
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
This novel is told from three alternating characters' points of view. It opens up with RC, a 15 year old boy who needs to write a history paper about a real life hero/heroine. After seeing a picture from 1961 with a middle-aged woman in anguish in front of a burning bus, he decides to track down the lady in the photo who is not now much older in 1987. This woman is Molly Valle, a former teacher from Mississippi, who became involved in the civil rights movement.

Molly started on that journey after
May 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although this is at first hand appears to be a love story, it goes much deeper than a straightforward romance story. Molly and John are the lovers, they meet in a diner in Mississippi in 1961 as the civil rights movement is taking place.
Molly, a divorcee, thinks of herself as an invisible member of society, a middle aged woman, unlike the beautiful movie stars who men lust after. That is until she meets John who sees the beauty in her, in fact he thinks the other men in the diner are blind or s
Pam Robertson
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Set in the middle of the Civil Rights unrest in the USA, you follow the story of Molly and John, both aged in their forties, with past experiences and relationships. They feel that their meeting signals an amazing moment in their lives and a new awakening. You get to see their story through both their eyes at times, but for the main, it is narrated by Molly, as an old woman, looking back. Slowly you realise that she may be an unreliable narrator which adds to the interest. At the centre of the s ...more
Grace J Reviewerlady
Jul 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really powerful novel which has affected me greatly; I'm quite appalled at events which took place during my lifetime.

Molly Valle is a high school teacher in Mississippi; a single woman living in her own small home and, at almost fifty, reckons her best years are behind her .. and then she meets John Pressman and he changes everything  . . .

This was unknown author to me when I was offered his novel to read, but I really hope to read more from him. The only issue I've had with this book is tryi
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Review

This is a wonderfully written and relevant novel in today’s age, as readers are taken through a romance set against the backdrop of the civil rights movement. The author has created a cast of characters that are memorable and worth investing in, and really captures the essence of that era.

The author excels at two things in this novel. The first being their amazing writing skills in bringing descriptive imagery to life and making the novel feel alive on the page. The second would be th
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Molly Valle is a 48-year-old, divorced school teacher in Mississippi living a quiet and unremarkable life in 1961. In the diner one afternoon she finds herself in the middle of a civil rights demonstration. When she decides to stand up against her townsmen and back the demonstrators her life changes. She meets John and they fall in love. There is a lot more to this story than just a romance. This is about finding the beauty below the surface and living your life in the best possible way.

The sto
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So, it think this book is beautiful. The writing was soulful and detailed.
At first, I was a little off put by the shifting POV's and times but I got the hang off it easily after reading the first few good chapters. (Not that there was anything bad the next pages)

BUT RIGHT NOW, the stuff here in real life, the rightful surge of black lives matter protests, the pandemic death toll surge, my hungry countrymen and neighbors, my overtired from work mother, my easily annoyed father, the bleak undecide
Happy Booker
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
The Magnolia that bloomed unseen is a romance novel written about Molly. She makes a phone call at the age of 103, to RC Smith who is an English teacher and writer, asking him to write her love story.

Going back 30 years, Molly is forty-eight and living comfortably by herself until she meets John. The moment she meets him, things just aren’t the same and Molly finds herself discovering things she never knew she was capable of. The strength and beauty that revelated are beautiful to read and bring
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
At the beginning of this book, I wasn’t that enthusiastic. It’s a love story during the civil rights period in Mississippi told in different POV’s and although that sounded amazing I heavily disliked the insta-love (each love interest is smarter and more beautiful than all others, they even literally think this and John can see the obvious sexism of most of his gender AND asks for the family wedding ring after ONE date) and the “visions” while looking for the extraordinary under the mundane. I a ...more
Hannah Symonds
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about love and self realization, growing up in the 1960's seemed to be extremely hard for John (not going to say too much as don't want to give away any spoilers). Reading this story you can tell the author Ray has done his research and as the story unfolds we get  more information about that era. I liked the way the story was set out about a boy called RC writing a memoir about Molly Vale, the story centres around her and her love for John, after meeting in a diner in Mississipp ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People that like love stories set in not too distant times
I really enjoyed this story. It was heartwarming and moving. I liked the characters and exciting backdrop of the 1960s in the US, which I feel has relevance to the present day. The main character is Molly, a driven person I immediately admired. The emotions and tribulations of her life- and relationship with a character who I won’t get into here so as not to spoil the story - were simultaneously unexpected and relatable. I’m left wishing I could see their relationship continue further. It would ...more
TNE Book Critic
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Magnolia that Bloomed Unseen is a beautifully written romance novel about love blooming in the most uncommon situation. Magnolia that Bloomed Unseen takes place in a small town in Mississippi, known as the Emerald of Mississippi during the civil rights era. The two main characters are John and Molly. John came to Mississippi, determined to change the world, and Molly is an outspoken, local school teacher. One afternoon, John enters the diner that Molly is a patron at and sees first handed, John ...more
ines M
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Molly Valle is 48 years old. A school teacher living in Mississippi in the early 60's. Her life is no different from the usual. Until the afternoon she decides to go out for dinner. This one decision changed her life.
I was not expecting this kind of book, as I'm not familiar with one of the main subjects. But in a way it was very interesting once I started the reading. The story is about passion, and how unexpectedly it can be found.
The characters are very well developed and the author guides t
Susan Lee
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kobo
It has been a short romantic journey from the day Molly and John met, albeit a tumultuous one during the apartheid movement filled with racism obstacles. The Magnolia that Bloomed Unseen is unlike any other romance novels so do not expect a happy ever after ending.

Overall, this novel is like any other romance novels written by a male author. I just had not expected the depth and the message it carried. It has hit a spot for me as a middle-aged woman after reading this novel and made me realized
Rona Nimmo
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Magnolia that bloomed unseen by Ray Smith.

This story is about Molly Valle a middle aged schoolteacher who lived and worked in Mississippi in the sixties and by a quirk of fate that changed her when she makes a stand against the bigotry around her and joins the civil rights movement of the time.

A really well written book about a dark time in the Deep South you can imagine sitting in the diner at the time. It makes you think would I have had the courage?

Really good book not my normal taste
Liliyana Shadowlyn
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen is a breath of fresh air. If you had told me ten years ago that I would read as many new adult and contemporary romances as I have at this point I'd have laughed at you. This though, this doesn't follow the same formula. Smith has a great voice, one that holds you captive. It's like listening to a story being told, I wish I could find the right words to explain it but I'm afraid today my words are failing me. Long story short, read it if you enjoy romance OR just ...more
Joanna S
May 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book. Love story between two people "of a certain age" during the civil rights era in Mississippi. For the Romance purists who expect a HEA, you may not love it, but the writing is beautiful and so are the main characters. https://abasketfullofkittens.blogspot... ...more
Denise Fleischer
Mar 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book has so many levels. It's about enlightenment, true love, bravery, civil rights, unity, self awareness and so much more. A review will follow on ...more
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Ray Smith lives in Los Angeles and is working on another book.

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