I’ve read a number of Lisa Wingate’s novels and enjoyed every one. Talk of the Town affirmed my love for Wingate’s writing. This contemporary Christian fiction is really funny. The characters are just crazy enough to be believable, and for those of us who grew up in or around a very small town, we understand the distinctiveness of the townspeople, their connectedness for better or for worse, the real life that happens in places most people have never heard of.
Mandalay Florentino is the associate producer for the reality TV show, American Megastar. She arrives in Daily, Texas from L.A. to set up the final countdown of the current season, which will feature small-town girl, Amber Anderson. Amber has come through the season with great applause, and now Mandalay is charged with keeping the hometown segment a secret.
There are several obstacles to Mandalay’s success. First of all, the tabloids have been alive lately with scorching gossip about Amber’s love life, which will hurt her ratings as a gospel singer. Will the paparazzi converge on Daily before the segment has been completed?
Secondly, Mandalay’s boss is a nasty piece of work who expects Mandalay to keep everything under wraps no matter what, and if she doesn’t, there’s no doubt her job will be on the line.
Thirdly, Mandalay has no idea how the news leaked out, but when she arrives in Daily, she sees a banner on Main Street declaring Amber as Megastar’s Hometown Finalist.
Meanwhile, sixty-something Imagene Doll is trying to come to terms with widowhood. She knows everyone in town, and as a “Dailyian,” she hears all the latest gossip. They all have concerns about their sweet Amber Anderson, and when “Amanda-lee” shows up in town, Imagene and her friends figure she must be connected with Amber’s show.
I love the quirkiness of Daily, the unique and often eccentric people who inhabit the town, and the unpredictable nature of the story itself. The local auto body shop is located in the same building as the hair salon, which is next door to the café where Imagene works. In Imagene’s words, “I’d come upon a dead raccoon on my way into town, so I was next door at the Daily Hair and Body getting my car fixed and my hair redone.”
Donetta, who sometimes sees visions in the window of her beauty shop, owns and operates the hair salon, and the neglected hotel. The Beulah Suite consists of two connected chambers. One features assorted Elvis memorabilia, which is where Mandalay is directed.
But who is Carter Woods and how did he end up in the other half of the Beulah suite, the one with the Care Bear theme? Does he also have connections with the show, or is he just a guy from a town down the road with other business to attend to? Wherever he’s from, Mandalay finds herself drawn to him, in spite of the fact that she is engaged to be married.
Author Lisa Wingate has succeeded in crafting an intriguing, entertaining and inspiring novel that manages to also focus the reader on the merits of living a life committed to the Lord. This spiritual aspect of life is rather new to Mandalay, but is being renewed in Imagene and her friends.
Another endearing aspect of this story is the strong moral implication that every person, no matter their background, financial status—good or bad—or personal baggage, is important to God and should be treated as such.
Throughout this rollicking story, basic tenets of faith and morality are intrinsic. Truth becomes the important factor that sorts out a lot of issues. When I reached the final page of the story, I wanted it to continue.
I give this book 5 stars because of the skill with which the author has woven together all the elements of a good story, and imbued it all with southern charm.
I noticed in the front matter that there’s a second book in the Daily, Texas series: Word Gets Around. I plan to read that one as soon as possible.
By the way, I read a free digital copy of this book, so check on the website for this option. Read, enjoy, and write your own review. Reviews and good ratings can make the day for a writer.