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The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen

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"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 her world. Soon, Molly discovers a strength and beauty she never knew she had—and a love so powerful, it can overcome the most tragic of consequences.

The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen is a love story, an adventure novel, and a self-realization journey. It reignites the truth that many women—and men—have unconsciously extinguished: you are special and worthy of love, and it’s never too late to make your dreams come true.

185 pages, Kindle Edition

Published November 7, 2019

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About the author

Ray Smith

2 books2 followers
Ray Smith lives in Los Angeles and is working on another book.

He can be contacted at


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Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews
Profile Image for Whispering Stories.
2,599 reviews2,552 followers
September 23, 2020
Book Reviewed on www.whisperingstories.com

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 are older, proves that love isn’t just for the young like in a lot of books published these days.

The characters are all well described and seemed so real to me. The language was beautifully descriptive and I loved references such as Lennon and McCartney unknown musicians playing in a bar in Hamburg, gasoline at 27c a gallon, a mention of James Joyce, Sherlock Holmes, and lots more. Chapter three included a part about a black youngster entering a diner that was for ‘white’s only’. This part of the plot was so well written that I could feel the impact of how the youngster felt and the static hate-filled atmosphere. It wasn’t a great image to have but whilst I understand in the world today we have a long way to go to combat racism, I’m so happy that these types of places no longer exist.

This was a definite page-turner, and I would never have predicted the ending. It touched every emotion within me. I cried and smiled, it was so so good. This book totally blew me away so thank you Ray Smith for such a brilliant read and I can definitely recommend The Magnolia that never bloomed.
Profile Image for M.T. DeSantis.
Author 16 books55 followers
June 24, 2020
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 tale, and I encourage all to read this.
Especially now, in a time where news and social media are all about the negativity, this book served as a wonderful reminder to appreciate what I have and treat every day like, well, the first day of the rest of my life. I hit a moment in my road of understanding at the beginning of this year. With that, this book made sense. Prior to that, I would have told myself this book made sense while wondering if life could truly be so simple. (Not easy, simple.) Spoiler, it can, and while the characters in this story are no strangers to heartache and loss, they move forward. My grad school’s motto is “Hazard, Yet Forward.” It means keep moving forward even when there’s trouble or it seems like you can’t. I loved seeing the characters in this book transform and move forward despite their hazards.
Long story short, this book is relevant now and, I think, will be relevant always, despite its historical setting. Certainly, the time period has an effect on the story, but it’s not all about the when. It’s about the journey. I look forward to reading more from this author.
Profile Image for Ivory.
1 review6 followers
December 15, 2020
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, enters old age at various times in the novel, which is exactly how reality is. The novel even addresses this. How love stories don't end at the most convenient times, which a lot of novels seem to do (when the couple is young and beautiful and "forever" in love), but at what it terms "inconvenient times." If you read the novel, you'll see how devastating this truth is.

So . . . expect a sad romance. Yet it is also a hopeful one. I came away with it slighly awed, to tell you the truth. A novel that shows the full breadth of a romance yet provides hope to the reader in how she could live her life, a life of meaning and purpose and all the joy one can gleam from such a life. The romance is both magical and reality-based, and while any romance that's reality-based must invariably end sadly (see The Notebook), this one doesn't.

I don't want to give away the ending (it's one I would not be able to see in a million years), but it's good. As is the novel. Read it.
Profile Image for Emily Jane.
32 reviews1 follower
August 10, 2020
*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 characters which took precedent over the rest of the story line and the struggle of the black students amidst the peaceful protests of 1960's America. I loved the first couple chapters but it quickly took a direction in which I wasn't that taken by or interested in. It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Saradia Chatterjee.
Author 2 books56 followers
August 13, 2020
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 best book I've read in the last couple of years. Had it been published under traditional banners, I'm certain it would find great appreciation from the reading public. It isn't an extraordinary romantic story, it shows us that even the ordinary can be most enchanting. I am still enchanted by the characters, their spectacularly humble experiences and the satisfaction of knowing that I can be adventurous in my little ways. If I keep at it, I will end up writing an essay on my impression of Magnolia. So, let's break here and explore some details.

The story is beautiful. You as a reader will find yourself feeling the same emotions as RC, the character who is listening to Molly narrate the events of her life in the year 1961. Like him, you'll imagine and anticipate tragedy all the while hoping against hope that John and Molly found their happily-ever-after. The subplot involving the civil rights movement, misogyny and social prejudices intertwine deftly with the main plot. I'm not going to spoil it but towards the end when the narrative switches to the present day, we are perhaps introduced to a new, blossoming love story, or at least, a new adventure.

Molly and John are portrayed from each other's perspective. They are characters I'm going to remember for a very long time. Molly struck me as a feisty school teacher but the author's success lies in telling us how she came to be so feisty and bubbling with life. The development of her character, her emotional turmoil, the melting of her heart--everything flashes right in front of our eyes. John, ever so attractive, is not completely devoid of vulnerabilities. The changes in his life, his goals and ambitions and his love for the ordinary make up the pieces that constitute the imperfectly perfect man that is John Pressman. RC is quite interesting too. In a way, he is quite like the forty-eight-year old Molly, maybe a little more impatient. Although he remains absent throughout a large chunk of the story, his presence later compensates for it. I must also mention the supporting characters, among whom, Bethanee is the most prominent. The saucy twenty-something African American activist is initially a sort of rival figure for Molly. But that changes as they gradually bridge the gap between their worlds. I admired her character a lot. The police chief's son, Cash, is another character who fights his own battles. The author has brought to life various types of characters here, asking the reader to explore each of their circumstances.

The style of narration is simple. Beginning with first person narration it switches to third person and then reverts to first. John and Molly's story alternates between points of view though told in third person. I think it's a clever way of helping the reader connect with three main characters--Molly, John and RC. The language is not too flowery but far from bland. I have highlighted so many lines here that it'll be difficult for me to find my favorite quotes now! i'll still give it a try.

Go read it. You'll find hope even in this covid infested world.

Profile Image for Ashley M. Nestler.
Author 3 books65 followers
July 22, 2020
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 feat. I haven't read a book this delectable in quite some time, and I am honored to share it with you.

The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen by Ray Smith is largely about love and realizing that there is no age limit on one's dreams coming true. The novel follows Molly Valle, a forty eight year old woman who has been disrespected by men and has given up on love...that is, until she meets John Pressman, an activist who challenges her view on life, love, and most importantly, herself. While this novel is a romance, it also features adventure elements and forces the reader to experience self-realization along with Molly. I feel changed after reading this gorgeous novel, and I am so thankful to Ray Smith for sharing his imagination with me.

The novel begins with a rather angry and bitter Molly Valle, but as one reads on they witness the slow unfolding - or blooming - of this special woman. I couldn't help but empathize with Molly and encourage her as I saw a lot of myself in her. Smith's descriptions made Molly so realistic that it was hard for me to keep reminding myself that I was reading fiction. I adored seeing Molly re-open herself to love and find the happiness she so deserved.

Ray Smith's writing was poetic and flowed from each page like magic. His character development was flawless and reminiscent of the classics. I can see The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen easily becoming a treasured classic for years to come. It has earned my respect in so many ways,

If you are a fan of Southern romances with a twist of self-realization and adventure, then you simply must pick up The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen. It is one of the most beautiful novels I have ever read, and it is bound to leave you changed. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Heidi | Paper Safari Book Blog.
970 reviews12 followers
September 3, 2020
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 differently and to steal from the book to see the beauty in the everyday.

Molly is a quickly approaching 50 as a divorced teacher in the south when John Pressman and his fellow freedom riders come to town and start peacefully protesting segregation. Molly steps in when a fellow diner and former student attempts to throw food at a young black woman sitting at the counter in a diner. When the food falls and the angry young man balls his fist to hit Molly, John steps in. The love affair between the two of them is fast and sweet, not a youthful, panty dropping whirlwind but a long walk and picnic on the grass kind of an affair. But what that relationship awakens in Molly never goes away. She learns that there is magic in the world if you only open your eyes to it.

As she tells her story to RC she tries to instill in him the magic that John had passed on to her. To open his eyes to possibilities. Molly has entrusted her story to RC, to tell her tale and share the gift John gave her with the world.
217 reviews3 followers
June 14, 2020
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 NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Dora Okeyo.
Author 26 books171 followers
June 18, 2020
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.
Profile Image for Steph Warren.
1,204 reviews19 followers
October 20, 2022
*I received a free ARC of this book, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

This is a touching historical fiction; a retrospectively-told love story about a middle-aged man and woman, John and Molly, meeting in the south of the USA in the 60s and challenging the Jim Crow laws with passive resistance techniques while falling deeply in love with each other.

The sense of time and place in the story is tangible and evocative – you really feel like you are there experiencing the music and social scene, the political tension and passion for change.

And this is also a love story to life, reminding readers that however far our paths may stray from our original plans and dreams, there is magic to be found in the everyday things and people around us, and that our purpose is to make the world a little better, a little brighter, a little fairer, a little kinder than when we first arrived in it.

The author doesn’t shy away from showing the hatred, ignorance and apathy present during the course of the story and I was left with a greater understanding of the events and attitudes of the not-so-distant past, and a burning desire to do better in my own lifetime.

Encompassing the big historical events of the protests against racism and segregation and the more personal story of intimate connection and individual relationships, this is an incredibly powerful and moving story about love and loss and doing the right thing.

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog
Profile Image for Alicia .
150 reviews24 followers
September 25, 2020
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 schoolteacher that at 48 years old, finds love and her missing spark thanks to civil rights activist John Pressman. One important and recurring theme here is age. They both see themselves as too old to be attractive but then love hits them at middle age, the time when childhood dreams have already faded and we surrender to monotony and fake security. However, their relationship gives them new dreams, excitement and the realization that love is something unrelated to age.

I liked everything about this book. The story, pace and style made it a fast and enjoyable read. Actually read it in one sit, well, not literally as I did grab something to eat from the kitchen, went to toilet once and paused multiple times to blow my nose and dry my tears. I always enjoy references to other books and media introduced through character’s dialogues and this book had plenty of that. The mindful way how sexism, racism and age issues were addressed in the story left an emotional impact without feeling forced.

Lastly, it was a nice change to see a romance not based on looks. Sure they found each other attractive, but it was as part of realizing their personality, behavior and some sort of chemistry or recognition of a kindred soul. Like Molly often mused during her first encounters with John: “it was like meeting with an old friend”. I hope you give this story a chance, it was one of my favorites this year!.

The story

The prologue is told by RC, who narrates his first encounter with Molly Valle (30 years ago, when he was 15 years old). At that time, he wanted information about “Molly Valle: the civil rights hero” for his history assignment. The rest of the chapters take place in the past, and it is presumably the story Molly is telling RC, but we read it from Molly’s or John’s point of view, which makes it even more immersive and emotional.

Final chapters return to the present time, RC is forty-four now and loosing his spark as well, with dreams unfulfilled and love not found. As the story reaches it’s end, we are delivered in full its main message; a very uplifting message about hope, finding magic in the ordinary and celebrating life, at any age.

Profile Image for Indie Book Reviews.
30 reviews1 follower
July 9, 2021
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 can happen at any time. The civil rights movement she throws herself into is gathering pace, being with John is a revelation, and life has never looked better – could it all be too good to be true?

Although there is a string central romance at the heart of this book, it is far from what one might consider a conventional love story. It is set against a backdrop of events that are of great interest in their own right, and it also diverges at times into territory that is verging on the mystical (or perhaps one might say, paranormal). The story conveys some very strong messages about the timeless quality of love, the importance of enjoying every moment, and the courage of those who were (and still are) brave enough to take a stand against oppression.

Overall, I found it an enjoyable read – if anything I just wanted more of the powerfully written account of the struggle for civil rights. I’d recommend it to anyone with an interest in this period of history, and equally to readers who like to see middle-aged characters get their shot at love and romance, steering clear of many of the genre’s tired stereotypes.
1,450 reviews24 followers
May 29, 2020
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 Mississippi in 1961 just as the Civil Rights Act is coming into effect.

Unfortunately for them back in the day their relationship was dissaproved by so many people. As the story unfolds we learn what they had to do back then just to keep their relationship going. It would of been nice to learn a little more about what they had to do but their is just the right amount of information to kind of understand what they did. A novel that makes you think and one that will stay with me for a long time.
3 reviews
January 23, 2020
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 be great to learn more about what they did since they were initially together and what else they could teach us so much about life and love. The story and time period come alive in this book and leave me wanting to learn more about the people and events of that time. Hoping there will be a sequel!
Profile Image for Linda.
681 reviews32 followers
April 25, 2021
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 to tell her and John’s story in more depth, She asks if RC would be interested in writing her story down. She had always had the faith in RC to become a novelist. At forty-four years old all he had written were short stories for literary magazines. He jumps at the chance and so the novel begins in earnest.

In 1961 Molly is a forty-eight-year-old high school English teacher who cares for and tutors her students in a small town in Mississippi. She’s divorced and lives a solitary life until she unwittingly ends up in the middle of a peaceful sit-in protest at a local diner. A young black couple enters and sit at the counter asking for a cup of coffee. Trouble ensues when John intervenes stopping a town bully from throwing a punch at Molly for standing up for the young black couple. The police arrive, arrests are made, and the incident causes Molly to lose her job.

John Pressman, at fifty years-old, was immediately attracted to Molly. His world shifted. He’d left his New York City job to join the Civil Rights Movement to make the world a better place. He’s a deep thinker and a charismatic speaker. Molly is mesmerized by him. Their journey is a romantic one on many levels. Mr. Smith is a wizard at painting the picture of an ugly time in US history against the beautiful backdrop of Mississippi. Molly and John’s story is fascinating, complex, and heart wrenching. The secondary characters are as fully-rounded and diverse as the main characters. At the end RC is left testing the boundary between what’s real, what’s imagined, and how to end his book.

I highly recommend “The Magnolia That Bloomed Unseen” if you enjoy human stories crafted with beautifully written prose and humility.

FYI: Race related violence, nothing overly graphic. **Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog. May have received a free review copy.** April 19, 2021.
Format/Typo Issues: Nothing worth noting.
Profile Image for Roberta (Always Behind).
467 reviews9 followers
June 14, 2020
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 a chance meeting with John Pressman, who is her age and white, as she also is, and two young black students at a sit-in at her local diner.

RC gets enough of his story for the history paper, but thirty years later he meets up with Molly again. He is astounded she is still alive. He wants to learn more of the background, so perhaps he can finally write the book that has been his dream.

The author does a tremendous job weaving the past and present together by using three protagonists. He shows Molly as someone who has taught school for many years, but who doesn't realized the lasting impact she has made in so many lives.

John is shown as a man who has risen from poverty, but discovers that life holds many adventures and you have to be brave to help make change.

Many readers will be able to relate to RC. He gets to middle age and regrets that he did not fulfill the dreams he had for himself. We all need to recognize that no matter our age we can be content with life and see the positive.

Although I was only 10 in 1961, I lived through civil rights era of the 1960's. I still start to cry when I see videos and photos of the horror African-American endured during peaceful marches. It is ironic that as I write this there has been a new era of racism and police brutality. I can only pray that someday we can see each other as brothers and sisters. The author created the authentic atmosphere of Mississippi of the 1960's.

This is not always an easy book to read, but it will touch you on many levels and hopefully make you think more deeply.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.
24 reviews
May 10, 2020
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 stupid not to find her attractive. ‘Or, [are they] like men everywhere... so conditioned by billboards, by magazines, and by television to only appreciate women whom society deemed attractive?’ John has a different idea of beauty, he thinks, ‘the slim, the young … the interchangeable, the undernourished’ were ‘breathing mannequins displaying accoutrements, which only decorated the shell of a person but never her soul.’
Molly also finds John very attractive physically and mentally as he ‘sees the magic beneath the everyday and finds happiness by helping people.’ They both begin to work with the oppressed black population, who are segregated in most aspects of their lives. Their work can at times be dangerous and frightening, but they push on in their quest to change opinions.

This is a thought provoking, well written book which transports you back to a time when life was very different. The main characters come to life and you really do feel as if you know them, or someone like them.
Profile Image for Pam Robertson.
1,032 reviews3 followers
June 8, 2020
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 story is the message that you need to look below the surface and appreciate what is before your eyes. Wishing for a different life experience means you miss so much.

The backdrop of the 1960's can seem shocking to the modern eye, with the bigotry and racial prejudice starkly drawn. Molly proves herself to be an original and brave thinker who steps forward to combat the oppression she can see happening before her. Although the book is describeda as a romance, there are layers to be uncovered. Social and political issues, facing up to change and learning to trust are all there. There is also the lesson that within your own sphere, you can have a fulfilling life without appearing to change the world. Being settled in your own skin and accepting yourself is the path to happiness.

In short: A well written story which blends the spirit of an age with the personal. Thanks to the author for a copy of the book.
Profile Image for Grace J Reviewerlady.
1,692 reviews63 followers
July 10, 2020
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 trying to categorise it; it crosses genres and so far I haven't settled on just one or two - but I'm working on it. Really skilfully crafted, this is a beautiful read which touched my soul while providing real food for thought. In today's culture - in Scotland - I'm quite horrified at how thing were in the deep south in the past, but the other part of the story lends itself to a deep love story which only some of us are ever lucky enough to be a part of. Touching on the civil rights movement, which I always find of interest, this is about one life and how well it was lived - and this really got under my skin. I hope I can live my life like Molly Valle - with no regrets. If this came from one of the larger publishers, it would have a bestseller tag on it, so please give it a chance. For me, this absolutely earns a 4.5 stars.

My sincere thanks to the author for approaching me to review his novel; this is - as always - my honest, original and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Anthony.
Author 30 books109 followers
May 12, 2020
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 the author’s ability to transcribe the atmosphere and culture around the civil rights era and the revelations it often left about those surrounding us at that time.

The Verdict

A true page-turner, author Ray Smith has created a fast-paced read that will immediately grab the reader’s attention and creating a tension-filled atmosphere with this romance blooming before the reader’s eye caught in the center of it all. Heartwarming, heartbreaking, and everything in between, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys drama, romance, and the backdrop of the civil rights movement. Be sure to get your copy today!
Profile Image for Jeanne.
859 reviews33 followers
May 19, 2020
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 story is told from Molly's and John's points of view but Molly was telling her story to RC, a former student, in the hopes that this would be the material he would need to write a novel. I think I would have enjoyed the story more if it was just told from Molly's perspective. Otherwise, it was well written. The language was such that I could feel the tension in the air in the diner and the hate and ignorance of the town people. The love between John and Molly was breath taking. I am anxious to read more of Mr. Smith's writings.

Thank you to Netgalley for the privilege of reading this story in exchange for a review.
Profile Image for JB.
75 reviews2 followers
June 16, 2020
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 undecided future, my failed travel and study plans abroad, a very politically corrupt and vile government that does not anymore understand we are a democracy who normalizes killing, silencing dissenters, bullying, women abuse, police brutality and corruption, it is as if I have lived in the most stressful times and don't want to make my mood darker by reading a beautiful, sad and soulful book.

I WILL READ THIS BOOK, but NOT RIGHT NOW when things in real life is stressful.

Thank you NetGalley for the good book I will read in the future! Hopefully before the Novemeber publishing. This is me praying things will get better soon😢
Profile Image for Happy Booker.
1,154 reviews66 followers
October 5, 2020
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 a joyful feeling for the reader.
John’s student volunteer has always had a crush on John and so does not really approve of the match. Things take a turn when Molly’s story does not pan out as it should and RC investigates more to find out what really went on for all three of them.

The story was sweet to read. It felt heroic and relatable. It is evident that the author really cared about this adventure novel of a self-realizing journey.
The underlying message was that dreams come true and it is never too late to try.
I enjoyed this aspect of the story and would recommend it to anyone who likes to read self-discovery novels, and love and romance storylines.
Profile Image for Femke.
113 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2020
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 also sometimes didn’t like the writing style, BUT once I really got into the story those complaints fell away and I discovered a beautiful story. It is mainly a love story, but it’s also about embracing who you are (with whatever age you might be) and that almost everyone is and does something special. You just have to look deep enough beyond the surface. I also think this story about the civil rights era is incredibly relevant at this time, during the Black Lives Matter movement.

Special thanks to NetGalley for sharing this ARC with me in exchange for my honest review.
78 reviews4 followers
June 8, 2020
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 advocating for black rights. Together the two embark on a journey of self-discovery while fighting for equality. The story seems to pop out magically, and the emotions seems to radiate out of the novel.
Profile Image for ines M.
137 reviews
August 15, 2020
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 the reader through a path of discovery, not only through the reading but igniting questions about personal patterns and unveiled passions to come.
It is an insightful story to be savored. I loved it!
Thank you Netgalley for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Susan Lee.
260 reviews4 followers
August 21, 2020
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 my many hidden dreams. I guess it is time to rethink my future again.

Thanks to Ray Smith and Netgalley for this ebook in return for my honest review. You can read my full review here:
552 reviews5 followers
May 3, 2020
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 but thoroughly enjoyed.
Profile Image for Liliyana Shadowlyn.
2,147 reviews59 followers
June 18, 2020
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 a good book to escape into OR both.
Profile Image for Denise Fleischer.
150 reviews2 followers
March 3, 2021
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 gottawritenetwork.wordpress.com.
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