Blanche’s Book Club: ‘The Tobacco Wives’.

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I have been listening to bookish and reading podcasts for several years. As a reader, I always enjoy hearing about what other people are reading, along with tips and tricks for readers.

One particular book podcast started a series of episodes dedicated to book recommendations for sensitive readers. Sensitive readers?

I wasn’t entirely sure what that was, but it wasn’t me. I read anything — true crime, addiction memoirs, trauma stories, family dysfunction, etc.

I often skipped these episodes because I didn’t think I was a sensitive reader. But, a few weeks ago, I was cleaning my apartment and listening to ALL the available podcasts I could — including the one for sensitive readers.

Sensitive readers, as it turns out, aren’t people who are scared of controversial or modern topics. It’s more about selecting books that provide a light escape and don’t stir up any personal drama or stressful thoughts.

Hmm, okay… as the episode went on, I heard about so many books that sounded fantastic! One of the recommendations I heard was for “The Tobacco Wives” by Adele Myers.

Soon after hearing about this book, I checked my library, and sure enough, it was there and on the shelf — just WAITING for me to come get it 🙂

“The Tobacco Wives” takes place in 1946 in Bright Leaf, North Carolina, where tobacco is grown, harvested, sold, and feeds the cigarette plant. The entire town relies on tobacco and cigarette sales.

When Maddie unexpectedly finds herself in Bright Leaf for the summer, her aunt agrees she can tag along and help her design and sew dresses for the tobacco wives — the local women married to the owners and executives of the tobacco fields and cigarette factory.

The big summer event is coming up around the same time the factory is launching a cigarette made just for women — it’s minty and healthy and you can even smoke it while pregnant. Or can you?

When Maddie comes across information that puts tobacco consumption in a different light, she’s not sure what to do. Taking away the money of Bright Leaf wouldn’t be good, but what about everyone’s health?

When I say this is not a book I would’ve picked up on my own, I mean it, and it’s so wild because I absolutely LOVED it.

I loved that it took place in the South, I loved picturing the dresses Maddie and her aunt were making, and I loved getting a glimpse of big tobacco companies before it was well-known about the risks.

While this book wasn’t stressful or dramatic, it does cover smoking + pregnancy (= miscarriages), and women in the workplace — there are many women working in the factory while their husbands are at war.

As soon as I finished reading the book, I looked up the author to see what else she’d written. And this was her debut novel!

I was impressed and disappointed all at once simply because I was hoping to read more of her books! But, I’ll be ready if she decides to write more 🙂

I’m recommending this book to anyone interested in the South, lite history, and women’s rights.

Have you read any books that would qualify as “sensitive”?

For more book recommendations, be sure to subscribe to the blog (look to the right) and follow me on Goodreads @thebitterlemon – where I share more of my book picks. Also, check out my printable bookmarks and Book Club Journal Pages in my Etsy Shop

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