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Miss Ophelia

A Novel

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About the Book

Part coming-of-age story and part slice of life, this remarkable novel explores the issues of abortion, illegitimacy, adultery, and skin color.

Rural Virginia, 1948. Belly Anderson is now in the autumn of her life. She cannot help but reminisce about the last summer of her childhood and the events that transpired which irrevocably changed her.

A strong-willed and free-spirited eleven-year-old, Belly reluctantly leaves her home in rural Pharaoh and goes to Jamison to help her mean Aunt Rachel recover from surgery. Belly has two reasons for deciding to go to Jamison: She's left alone when her only friend becomes pregnant and is sent away, and she hopes that she'll be allowed to take piano lessons from Miss Ophelia—her mother's childhood friend.

While taking lessons from Miss Ophelia, Belly soon grows very fond of her teacher and forms a deep bond with her. Then, she learns a terrible secret about Miss Ophelia—a secret that forces Belly to grow up and learn what it really means to be an adult.

Compelling, moving, and deeply absorbing, Miss Ophelia is an unforgettable, timely story that will resonate with readers long after the final page is turned.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“Through the poignant reminiscences of her 11-year-old protagonist, a shy bookworm in 1940s rural Viginia, retired schoolteacher Smith shows that ‘abortion, adultery, deceit, religious hypocrisy, and interracial discrimination’ can be balanced with ‘filial and romantic love, loyalty, and forgiveness.’” —Library Journal

“A gently affecting tale…. Smith has richly realized the ritual courtesies and dynamic village unity of an isolated community, and her people are as warmly familiar as good neighbors. An attractive…novel, then, told with a smooth pro confidence, and with the style and ambiance of post WWII popular fiction.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The story is a simple one, low on drama but with the appeal of a tale spun out at twilight on a front porch.” —New York Times Book Review

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780688163570
  • ISBN 10: 0688163572
  • Imprint: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • On Sale: 05/19/2015
  • Pages: 288
  • List Price: 17.95 CAD
  • BISAC1: FICTION / African American / General
  • BISAC2: FICTION / Historical
  • BISAC3: FICTION / General

Miss Ophelia by Mary Burnett Smith

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