Cover Image: Willa's Grove

Willa's Grove

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Member Reviews

Three women, from coast to coast and in between, open their mailboxes to the same intriguing invitation. Although leading entirely different lives, each has found herself at a similar, jarring crossroads. Right when these women thought they'd be comfortably settling into middle age, their carefully curated futures have turned out to be dead ends.

Many emotions were felt while reading this book. The way this story was written really touched my heart. I do think this book will be perceived differently from a 20 or 30-something reading this book, vs a 40-50-something reading this book. I was also thinking this would be a great book club pick.
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This is a lovely read and a wonderful debut novel by the author . I enjoyed it and highly recommend it for your reading enjoyment. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. 

We are introduced to a most intriguing beginning when four women friends Bliss, Harriet and Jane  receive a invitation from their friend   Willa and her friend Bliss, Bliss’s friend Harriet and Harriet’s friend Jane. These woman receive invitations to go to Willa’s Grove to help her pack up . Her life has change and she cannot afford to stay in the house. As the women go about helping their lives all change for the better and friendships are stronger then ever. 

I loved this feel good story of good strong women's friendships. It was a enjoyable story and very well told for each charcter.
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So Now What? Think the freer thought. 

I am a farm girl, an old farm girl. When Willa went to stand in her empty barn, I knew exactly how she felt. After I was grown up and moved away from home, I’d come back home and stand in the empty barn, full of ghosts of 4-H calves, cats, and horses ; the memories as I ran my hands over the saddles and held the currycombs. Ms Munson nailed it. 

I started this novel on day four of my self isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe because I’m living in isolation with a daily changing of life as I know it, this story was so poignant to me....that, like Willa,  I’m saying goodbye to a way of life. 

This story reminds me of one of my all-time favourites , Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s not the same story but there are hints of it in some of the pages. Very much enjoyed this read. 

Thanks to NetGalley and publisher for the ARC.
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WOW. A book that you just inhale. Four women and choices and friendships.old desires, secrets, and regrets. It cheers on each woman and lord, it was so real.
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This book is now on my favorites list. It is a heartbreaking but relatable story about 4 women in their late 30’s to early 40’s whose lives have all been turned upside down one way or another.  And they have come together to support each other to determine what’s next.  I’m not sure how to explain how this book is speaking to me on so many emotional levels.  It is putting into words so many things that I felt and felt with during and right after the divorce, of finding out who am I, my supposed to be didn’t turn out the way it was planned to, what does my future look like how?  I get it, I get where they are and what that place looks like in retrospect,  even if you aren’t in the middle of a life’s crisis the raw beauty and message of this book is absolutely worth the read.  Spent the last 10% crying, just wow
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This is Laurie Munson’s first book of fiction. Peppered throughout the plot and characters, I saw a lot of what Laura knows best, a community for women. 
I would love to go to a retreat in Willa, Montana. If not, on my bucket list is to attend Haven Writing Retreat.
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This is an emotional book featuring four women, different ages with very different backgrounds, at very different crossroads in their lives. They come together in a remote Montana town to bond and support each other while deciding “So Now What?” The book has a lot of feel good vibes and is perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing story involving women, friendships and life’s ups and downs.
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First off, this novel is more character driven, so if you favor plot-driven novels, this book may not be for you.
That being said, I did not know what to expect when I started reading this, but I did enjoy it. 
I enjoyed the development of the characters over the course of the week that they spent together, as well as the development of their relationships. Within the novel there were many messages that for me were hard to ignore, as I have been stuck in a "So Now What?" themed pity party for years.
I definitely wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, but if you don't mind stories where plot takes a back seat in favor of character development, then you might want to give this a try.
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Willa, Bliss, Harriett, and Jane didn't all know each other when they arrived in Montana to help Willa pack up her life after the death of her husband. By the end of the weekend, however, they know more about each other but most importantly, they've learned something about themselves.  Each of them has a choice to make and an issue to deal with- each is different but at root, they are all facing an uncertain future.  While it might have benefited in spots from another edit, it's a good read that gives you a sense of these women.  Thanks to the publisher for the ARC.  You might identify with one of them, which is always a plus.
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Willa's Grove by Laura Munson is a recommended feel-good women's novel featuring four very different women at a cross road in their lives.

It all started with an invitation from one woman sent to three different women that invited them to the rest of their lives by visiting a lodge at a homestead in Montana for one week. Each of the four women have found themselves at a juncture in their lives where they are entering middle age with uncertain or unexpected futures. The invitations have been sent by Willa Silvester, a recent widow who must say goodbye to her home and town because she can no longer afford to stay there.

Willa's friend, Bliss, is facing her own world of hurt in Wisconsin. When the two talk they plan the weekend where a friend invites a friend who then invites a friend. Bliss invites Harriet, a former motivational speaker living in California. Harriet invites Jane, a highly guarded and proper socialite from the east coast. The three very different women are going to spend the week honestly examining their lives and their futures while helping Willa pack and say good-bye to her town.

The premise is that these extremely different friends of friends will be able to bond together and create a community of mutual support because they are all women. There are parts of this novel that are touching in the honest and open discussion the women have about their lives and what they wanted versus what they have. (Let's just fess up and say that nothing political or controversial, with one exception, was ever discussed between the women.) And while it is true that we all need friends we can be open and honest with, the expectation that you will find that connection because you are all women is unrealistic. There is also something to be said about connecting with people who you have a natural affinity toward and share similarities in beliefs and background.

In the end, Willa's Grove is a feel-good women's novel set in Montana. And it must be said that the setting is as important as the characters. This is a novel to read when you want to pass the time quietly. There is nothing shocking or surprising that happens. (There is one incident that simple could not happen as described, but I don't want to give a spoiler.)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Blackstone Publishing.
review will be on Amazon and Barnes&Noble after publication
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When you put four women together  -- each at a major crossroads in her life -- you've got an interesting premise for a book, but in addition to dialogue and discussion there needs to be action.  And I felt that this book lacked the latter. 

 The three women (Harriet, Bliss, and Jane) who come to Montana at the invitation of Willa seem one-dimensional and very stereotypical:  Harriet, the jaded women's lifestyle coach; Bliss, the betrayed wife and devoted daughter who longs for a child of her own; and Jane, the uptight wife and mother who strives for the veneer of a perfect life.  Lastly, there is Willa, a recent widow who faces the prospect of staying or leaving her Montana home after learning that her deceased husband has left her financially destitute.  

I'm not sure what I expected from the book, but the writing was stilted at times and could have used a more deft editing hand. I wanted to like this book, but I had a difficult time getting through it.   

Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. #Willasgrove #NetGalley #Blackstone Publishing
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I tried really hard to love or even like this book .  But I am sorry to say, I just couldn't get through it.  Maybe some editing to help the flow of the story.. would be interesting in rereading a revised copy
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“That’s why I love it. It reminds me how truly small I am every single time. And how wild is the base of the natural world.”

I really enjoyed my time with this story. This is the story of four women who are, for different reasons, at a stage in their life where they are at a precipice. They have (or want to have) left the life they're living behind and they are trying to figure out what should/could come next. 

They all gather at Willa's home in Montana to spend a handful of days together and see if they can figure out what's next while supporting each other through their journey of discovery. 

"Maybe the reason we’re having such a hard time figuring out what to do next in our lives is because we’re starting with fear instead of love.”

Each of the women have different personalities and different reasons why they are stuck and they open-mindedly support each other as they discuss bits and pieces of their lives and struggles. If you're close to that place or stage of your life, you might really enjoy this book. If you're far from it, it might feel hard to connect.

“So it’s a fine bit of irony, really. We don’t want what we have, and then it’s all we want.”

For me, it was a great read. I liked the way the women supported each other. I liked how each character was wildly different and yet they were each struggling in their own story. It reflects how we can each be struggling even if our stories differ and the struggle itself might be something we have in common and something we can guide each other through. It's a story about community and how we're built for community.

 “That’s why I love it. It reminds me how truly small I am every single time. And how wild is the base of the natural world.”

It's also a story about beautiful nature and Montana which I also loved. 

If you're looking for a sweet, character-driven story and are wondering your own So Now What? I'd recommend this read.

with gratitude to netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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The author’s introduction at the beginning is so touching and inspiring. Love it.

This story is for all the women who search for an answer to the question, “So now what?” Willa's Grove tells the story of four women - Willa, Bliss, Harriet, and Jane - who gather for a week of camaraderie and support at a difficult time in their lives. By sharing their life stories, the women guide each other into "the life that is waiting" for them.

I don’t know if  everyone will  FEEL this book like I did. Maybe it’s because I’m at a similar place - not yet 46 nor a widow, but at a place where I am thinking “so now what” as my youngest goes off to school, my husband retired from the Army - the only lifestyle I’ve ever known because I grew up a military brat and married a soldier before I was ever NOT a military dependent and I didn’t get accepted into my (stupidly) ONLY choice for a doctorate program for Psychology. As I turn my sights towards new endeavors  and try to settle our family into the town that will become “home” for more than two years, “So Now What?” is a question I’ve struggled with the last couple of months. That may be why this book was so touching and perfect for me but I can see how it would be boring to anyone not at this stage in life. It doesn't have any action or plot twists or suspense. It's just a sweet, touching story about connection and life. 

My review will also be posted to Goodreads and Instagram @rosetree_bookreviewer 

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for the ARC of Willa's Grove in exchange for my honest opinions.
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Laura Munson’s lovely debut novel, Willa’s Grove, invites us into the friendship between four women of a certain age who come together for a week of companionship, support and soul searching in hopes of answering the question: “So Now What?” 

Recently widowed Willa is the catalyst for the gathering as each woman finds herself at a crossroads either personally or professionally. In one way or another, they are all lost or have lost some part of themselves, none more than their hostess, who is grieving and about to lose the beloved Montana home that has been in her late husband’s family for generations. 

Montana itself is not only the backdrop for Willa’s Grove, but is at the very heart of the novel. Munson has gift for establishing a visceral setting which draws us right into the quaking aspens, the rush of the river, the gentle slope of the butte. We feel the ground shake from a buffalo stampede, smell the fragrance of dried sage, taste morels foraged in the woods, hear the song of a bluebird, and feel the silky velvet of a mare's warm neck. This square mile of Montana is both Willa’s passion and her albatross. Munson’s love letter to the place tugs on us, engendering both empathy for Willa’s dilemma and a wee bit of envy that we aren’t tromping through it all alongside her. 

Munson cleverly divides the women’s week together into individual days. Having lived in this wild and natural space for decades, Willa knows Montana will work its healing magic. She may be saying goodbye to the property’s sacred spaces, but as she treks through her land with these friends, one by one, day by day, they open up to one another, confessing both secrets and dreams, and admonish each other to stop saying “Sorry!”

So Now What? I’ll not spill the beans on each woman’s resolve as their week together reaches its crescendo. I will say, if you have a group of what I call “heart friends,” or if you long for the support and intimacy of strong female friendships, you will likely find pieces of yourself and your own crew in one or more of these richly drawn characters. You’ll be rooting for them and wondering what their So Now What? looks like once their seven days together are over. You might also feel just a little homesick for a certain corner of Montana.
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Just couldn't get through this one.  It really needs more editing.  Munson has the beginnings of an interesting story but this reads more like a first draft than a finished product.
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Thank you Net Galley, Laura Munson and Blackstone Publishing for the chance to read this lovely book.  Willa has spent her entire adult life living in rural Montana with her husband and sons. Her sons have now gone off to College and her husband passed away suddenly. This book centres around Willa and her friend Bliss, Bliss’s  friend Harriet and Harriet’s friend Jane.  These woman receive invitations to go to Willa’s Grove to help her pack up as she can’t afford to stay and run the town that she owns. What follows is a heart warming story of four very different woman who learn to love each other as they each deal with their deep personal issues.  The characters are deep and lovely woman, each with a different lifestyle. While they learn how to live the rest of their lives and let go of their troubles we learn how strong women are. I was uplifted reading this book and wanted to call my female friends to tell them they are strong and can “do this” Simply a beautiful story told in such a beautiful way. The author told this story so well I felt I was there in the kitchen with them.  I was sad to have this book end.
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DNF. While this is a sweet story with a beautiful setting, I had a difficult time connecting to the writing style and the characters. It started out with a lot of backstory and I soon found myself skimming. The author has a talent for painting an image with words, but there wasn't enough of a draw to keep me turning the page.
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This was a book I really wanted to love, Andi did love the setting, and the premise.  The conversations became, in my opinion, repetitive.
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to review this book!

I thought the setting was beautiful and the premise was good, but other than that...this book was lacking for me. I felt like it dragged on forever.

What's it about? Four women are at an empasse in their life, and meet in Willa, Montana to try to find direction in their life. Basically, this just boils down to lots and lots of talking. In the Inn. In the woods. In hot springs. After a while it was simply monotonous. There was nothing surprising or unique in the novel that made it stand out to me,. I wanted more....action. Suspense. SOMETHING.
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