Book Review: Stiltsville: A Novel

by Susanna Daniel

Harper Collins, 2010

My Rating: A

It’s my pleasure to welcome you to the first stop on the TLC Book Tour of Stiltsville: A Novel by Susanna Daniel.

Stiltsville is an in-depth look at a marriage, a family and friendships spanning three decades in an area of the world I’ve never been, South Florida.

Frances is single, in her mid-twenties when she flies into Miami for the wedding of a friend. She has an extra day so a new friend invites her to go out on the open water of Biscayne Bay. They boat out to an area that is a completely new experience to Frances (and me). It’s a community of houses in the middle of the water that are built on concrete and metal pilings. The houses look as if they are built on stilts, hence it’s called Stiltsville.

I googled for images of houses like this and found quite a few around the world. This picture is from a hotel in Bermuda that I think might be similar to the ones in Stiltsville: A Novel. Isn’t it beautiful?

Frances’ visit to Stiltsville changes the course of her life. She finds her personality changing, blossoming. She is doing and saying things she hasn’t done before. It’s on this first visit to a Stiltsville house where she meets Dennis, her future husband. Within six months Frances is back in Miami building a life with Dennis.

The story is told in the first person from Frances’ point of view. It felt as if Frances were someone who sat down next to me on a train. All I had to do was ask her to tell me about her life and it all came pouring out. I just threw in a couple of prompts from time to time (“And then what happened?”). Her life drew me in as she let me in on some of the intimate details of her relationship with Dennis, his parents, their daughter, and a few of their friends. Their was even a slight infidelity.

If Frances really had been sitting next to me on the train, I would have told her to write this all down as it would make a great book. The part of the story about the house on stilts completely captured my imagination. The story was so vivid that I felt as if I were really there. Here’s a little sample:

In July in South Florida, the sunlight fusses and adjusts a hundred times over the course of the day: By mid-afternoon, hours from sunset, the blue of the sky was rich and dense, as if a dusting of powder had been wiped from its surface.

The character of South Florida was as real as Frances and Dennis. I felt as if I’d been there.

This was not a quick read for me, one I could devour in a few hours. I took my time and enjoyed it. I recommend you do the same.

About the author: It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel as it is very mature in writing and storytelling. Susanna Daniel brings to this book her own personal experience of living in a stilt house during her childhood. More information about Susanna Daniel can be found at her website: Susanna

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Jane at Harper Collins for my copy of the book. Stiltsville: A Novel
is available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.) Also, check your local library and local bookstores.

Other stops on the tour can be found at TLC Book Tours.

This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, A Book, Book Challenges and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Book Review: Stiltsville: A Novel

  1. I just finished this yesterday and I cried like a baby at the end! I’m glad to see you liked it too.

  2. Cerrin says:

    I would love to visit those type of houses. It seems like it would be so peaceful.

  3. Gorgeous picture! I have been to South Florida and it is certainly a whole different world down there. It is so colorful with the Cuban culture and the art deco culture and all the other subgroups. Definitely worth a visit!

  4. Rural View says:

    This sounds great. Love the quote. I spent a lot of time in Key West in my younger days, so anything set in south Florida is for me.

    I want to take advantage of the book bloggers appreciation week to tell you how much I love your blog. Read it every single day, and I really missed it when you were away.

  5. Lisamm says:

    I love how you said it’s like someone sitting down next to you on a train and telling you what happened. It sounds great! I saw houses like these in Chesapeake Bay when I was a little kid. Thanks so much for being (first!) on the tour.

  6. Janelle says:

    Hi Margot,
    I just sent my answers to your interview questions…look for them in your email. 🙂

  7. Staci says:

    I want one of those houses!! I loved your take on this novel and the fresh approach in your review..stunning!

  8. Carol Roberts says:

    This has been on my Amazon wishlist. After your excellent review, I’ve just ordered it!

  9. Sounds like one I’d enjoy — I love a novel with a good sense of place! — and it is our new home state (but a very different part of Florida).

  10. stacybuckeye says:

    How exactly do you get into those stilt homes? I love the gorgeous picure. Of all the places you’ve been I’m surprised you’ve never made it to south Florida. I guess you’ve got to keep some places open to explore 🙂

  11. Pingback: Stiltsville by Susanna Daniels – Book Thoughts « Devourer of Books

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