The Hedgerow

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Pub Date Jul 09 2024 | Archive Date Jul 17 2024
Mindbuck Media | Unsolicited Press

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It’s 1949, the freedom granted women by the Second World War is over, and stifling social conventions are once more at play. Edith Sloan, the rebellious, well-educated heroine of An Open Door returns in The Hedgerow to pursue her dreams of owning a thriving bookstore on Harvard Square and establishing a poetry press to publish the silent and underserved. Free of her dreary marriage to Walter, she receives a proposal from Henry, a wealthy British peer and the man who made the purchase of her bookstore possible. When she accepts, is it from love or gratitude? Will being his wife help or hinder her plans? Edith soon finds herself at the intersection of free expression and censorship. Duty competes with desire, while serious endeavors are undermined by trivial pursuits. As she tries to balance the competing demands in her life, troubling facts from Henry’s past come to light. Edith also discovers that being a pioneer in publishing comes with consequences she hadn’t foreseen. The decade draws to a close and delivers one more surprise Edith must summon extraordinary courage to face.

It’s 1949, the freedom granted women by the Second World War is over, and stifling social conventions are once more at play. Edith Sloan, the rebellious, well-educated heroine of An Open Door returns...

Advance Praise

“Anne Leigh Parrish’s The Hedgerow, set in 1949, is a tale of disorientating changes in American society and in the personal life of Edith Sloan, the introspective heroine of this marvelous sequel to Parrish’s poignant An Open Door. With a brilliantly-realized metaphor at its heart — Edith, her family, ex-husband, lovers, friends, and associates are a microcosm of America — the novel foreshadows struggles between self-expression and group think, personal identity and conformity, that will characterize the imminent 1950s. Historically perceptive, current as tomorrow’s headlines, The Hedgerow is compelling fiction that crackles with honesty.”

— Robert Crooke, author of Letting The House Go

“Anne Leigh Parrish’s The Hedgerow, set in 1949, is a tale of disorientating changes in American society and in the personal life of Edith Sloan, the introspective heroine of this marvelous sequel to...

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ISBN 9781956692990
PRICE $18.95 (USD)

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Featured Reviews

Thank you Netgalley & Unsolicited Press Publishing for an eARC ♥️♥️♥️

Ah, dear reader, let me tell you about "The Hedgerow" - a truly heartwarming tale that will capture your heart and inspire your soul. This beautifully woven story follows the journey of Edith Sloan, a remarkable woman who embodies the essence of resilience, courage, and determination.

As Edith navigates the challenges of her dream to create a haven for book lovers and champion the voices of poets, you'll find yourself rooting for her with every turn of the page. Her passion for the written word is contagious, and her unwavering commitment to her vision will leave you in awe.

But it's not just about the books - it's about the connections we make along the way. Edith's relationships with the charming Henry, her dear friend Lucy, and the cast of characters that populate her world will warm your heart and remind you of the power of kindness, empathy, and understanding.

As she faces obstacles and confronts the harsh realities of her time, Edith's spirit never falters. She is a beacon of hope, and her story will inspire you to chase your own dreams, no matter how daunting they may seem.

"The Hedgerow" is a love letter to the written word, to the human spirit, and to the transformative power of community. It's a reminder that our stories matter, that our voices count, and that with courage and determination, we can make a difference.

And let’s not forget the stunning cover art ,absolutely divine 😍

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"The Hedgerow" continues Edith Sloan's journey with depth and nuance, delving into the complexities of love, ambition, and societal expectations in post-World War II America. What I appreciate about this novel is its exploration of Edith's struggles as she navigates the tension between personal fulfillment and societal norms. Her pursuit of independence and her passion for literature are admirable, yet she grapples with difficult choices when faced with proposals and obligations. The backdrop of Harvard Square and the burgeoning literary scene adds richness to the narrative, painting a vivid portrait of the era. As Edith confronts challenges both personal and professional, readers are drawn into her world, rooting for her resilience and determination. With its blend of romance, intrigue, and social commentary, "The Hedgerow" offers a compelling and thought-provoking read that lingers in the mind long after the final page.

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i am so thankful that i got to read this book early! thank you so much to the publishers and to netgalley. what a lovely story this was!! it was fantastic and sweet and precious and lovely in every single way!!!

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It took me awhile to get into this book but when I did it was great. An enjoyable read. Recommend, yes!

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This is the sequel to An Open Door. I recommend reading it first in order for this book to make sense. I did like the story and will read the first one.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

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My thanks to NetGalley and Unsolicited Press for an ARC of this novel.

This book follows up the story introduced in The Open Door, in which Edith and Walter Sloane are a troubled young couple starting out on a married life that satisfies neither. By the end of that volume, they have gone their separate ways. The ostensible reason is Walter’s affair with Babs. But Edith, while bothered by her husband’s adultery, is really motivated to flee their Boston home by her soul-deep discontent with the entire institution of marriage and the conventions surrounding ‘the wife’ in middle class America. The historical setting is the post Second World War transition, when a conservative reactionism makes many think they want things as they used to be. But things can’t go back there. And were things actually that good ‘before’?

The sequel continues along these lines. Edith is now living with Henry, an ex-pat British aristocrat embroiled in tense divorce proceedings with Margaret. They are also holdovers from the previous novel. Lady Margaret had not only dallied with a number of men in England and then America, but had also aborted the child that her husband very much wanted—and nonchalantly told him so.

Complicating matters for these two unhappy couples is that their uncoupling, and Edith’s recoupling with their good friend Henry, naturally ruins the foursome but also their joint business dealings. Lord Henry had bought a bookstore for his wife to keep her out of trouble as they started anew in the U.S. The capricious Margaret quickly lost interest in what was intended to be a joint project with Edith, for whom Walter had bought a share in the store to compensate her for dropping her own doctorate while he finished his. In truth, he just didn’t want competition from his own wife and preferred her to play ´ faculty wife’ while dabbling in feminine part-time work. Also in truth, the doctorate never meant that much to the disaffected Edith.

While the two men in Edith’s life are very different, they are also similar. Walter is arrogant, controlling, obsessed by public opinion. Henry often lacks confidence and needs to be told what to do, but cares little what people think of him. In his own thoughtful way, however, he also wants the last word on everything, especially where Edith is concerned. Both interfere in her life in ways that she can’t prevent or stop.

Edith is the key figure in this story. She comes across as simultaneously bold and unconventional yet willing to embrace convention to pursue her own dreams, and entirely unashamed about it. She is above all pragmatic. She asserts that she wants nothing more than to immerse herself in the business of running the bookstore, now solely hers since Henry bought out his ex wife in an obvious attempt to buy her. She admits that she does not love the besotted Henry—even to Henry and his own mother—but agrees to become engaged to him a few short days before the ignoble Walter divorces her, blaming the marital collapse on her desertion and adultery.

The word that best sums up the novel’s tone is ambivalence. Edith describes herself as ambivalent and believes that she ´can’t help it, that’s just what she is’. Still emotionally attached to Walter, even as he disgusts her, she becomes pragmatically attached to Henry, and is not above a teasing ‘downstairs’ flirtation with his loyal (though not entirely) long-time butler Alastair. Walter is also ambivalent. He shows up in divorce court with a gloating Babs after a year of writing to her and avoiding any divorce discussion. He willingly makes her the villain, easily supported by the period’s legal system, but also ´can’t help ‘ himself because he is desperately in need of attention, trying to wring pity even from those he wrongs. Finally, Henry is nothing if not ambivalent. He wants a fresh start in a new country with a new woman, but effectively puts into action the very plan that had landed him in this situation. He believes he just wants to extricate himself from his heavy family obligations, but can’t let go of the ties that keep him bound to the life he now rejects.

This is a quiet novel with the emphasis on characterization, at which the author excels. In elegant prose, she manages to present the various ‘sides’ to all her characters, even the secondary ones. She shows how small motions, like the flutter of butterfly wings, can have momentous consequences. I confess I did not like any of the characters much, maybe Edith least of all, but my own ambivalence about them is a reflection of how well the author has portrayed them. It never detracted me from the very human experience that they were undergoing, that awful sense of entrapment in conventions that are outmoded but persistent, like the traditional hedgerow that, though out of style in the modern gardens of the time, grew back no matter how heartily attacked.

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Loved this book so much. The characters were so interesting. The plot and storyline was super amazing and interesting. 4 starts from me.

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Many thanks to Unsolicited Press Publishing and Netgalley for sharing this eARC.

Firstly, I have to mention the gorgeous front cover. Someone really nailed it there.

The main thing that stood out to me is I found something very economical in Parrish's use of language. She is not one to pause and linger over the beauty of a moment which personally leaves me wanting more at times. (But I take a lot of guilty pleasure in purple prose so this is just personal taste. I'm sure many readers would enjoy the more pared back style found here)

Edith is presented to us as fully three dimensional. She is not the most likeable character in the world but she is a fully fleshed out heroine who is in full control of her life. Especially considering this is not a contemporary setting, it is refreshing to see a female lead who actually goes out and makes her own choices rather than stuck in her home or sitting pining over a man. Henry reminds me a bit of Dickie Greenleaf from The Talented Mr. Ripley. He isn't a strong character, he sways easily which I think serves as a contrast to Edith's character.

All in all, this is a very easy read that I would put in the category of perfect to throw in your bag for a short holiday when you want something different but not too complicated.

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