Carol June Stover
Champlain Avenue Books, Inc. (2016)
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (1/17)
“Kenmore Square” by Carol June Stover is the story of Iris Apple. Iris grew up in the 1950s during a time when illegal gambling, mysterious murders, and poverty were a common lifestyle in Boston. She lived in a rundown rooming house with her father and mother. Her father, whom she called “Nick,” was mean, shady, and a braggart. He loved to tell tall stories about his dad, who was a notorious bookie in Boston – until he wasn’t anymore.
At the age of 10, Iris’ mother is murdered and Nick can’t tell her what happened or why. She knows he is hiding something and is determined to investigate and find the truth. With the help of one of the boarders, Madame Charlemagne, Iris finds out more that she wants to know about her so-called family.
Because she is constantly asking questions about her mother, Nick enlists the help of his sister Beatrice to care for the child. Beatrice and Nick haven’t spoken to one another in years due to the fact she can tell when he is lying and calls him on it. Beatrice is a lot like Nick in that she likes to be in control and loves belittling others to get her way.
When Iris turns eighteen, she meets another innkeeper who knows her mother and the history of her real father. After several visits to this inn, Iris learns some shocking truths from Buffy, the innkeeper. However, due to Buffy’s health, Iris and Madame Charlemagne find themselves tending to the inn after Buffy is taken to the hospital. Enter, Buffy’s son who has been absent for several years. Together, they start to uncover more startling information and discover a human head buried in the backyard of the inn.
Stover does a fantastic job of re-creating the 1950s, right down to the smells, dress, and seedy characters. She introduces the characters in a timely manner and readers will find they love them or hate them. Written with true passion, and supported by phenomenal research, “Kenmore Square” by Carol June Stover is an easy-to-read, can’t-put-it-down book.