SMALL BLESSINGS final coverReviews 
Martha Woodroof. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-04052-7
“Woodroof nails the debut novel: This warm, wise tale leaves a smile long after the final page is turned.” —People Magazine

This book is a charmer: quirky, clear-hearted and effervescent.” —


Paperback is coming May 5th from Picador!Small Blessings_tp

“A warm, caring and thoroughly entertaining debut that reads remarkably well.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Along with dark humor and a confident command of story, strong characters and absurdist twists add to the fun.” —Publishers Weekly

“A delightful tale about what happens when good intentions go well.” —Good Housekeeping

“In Small Blessings, Woodroof displays a lovely gift for inventive plot turns and glittering moments. The novel brims with life and complexity and characters who never stop surprising themselves, and each other. This is a delightful and splendidly intelligent comedy.” —Margot Livesey,  New York Times bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

Small Blessings is a comedy of manners that will capture your heart. Woodroof’s prose is tart and sweet — smart enough to make you laugh, but with an aching soul that will make you cry. I loved these characters even as I was chuckling at the, and I know Rose and Tom are a couple you’ll relish rooting for…Get ready for pure pleasure shot through with moments of illumination: maybe this is how love really is.” —Lydia Netzer, author of Shine Shine Shine

“In the world of Small Blessings, to choose happiness is to take a risk… Optimistic, wise, and beautifully written, this book about love in all its colors, hope, and the glory of third chances will stay with you long after you close the cover.”—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of A Grown Up Kind of Pretty

Order Small Blessings here! (indiebound) and here! (amazon) and here! (Barnes & Noble)


I have a few authors I think of as warm bath story-tellers, meaning I can sink into them without fear of being surprised by hopelessness. As an old rock ‘n roller who’s waded through a few Sloughs of Despond in my time, I’m not really a fan of despair in literature even when the author has given his characters plenty to despair about. I have had enough opportunities to despair in my own life.

Alexander McCall Smith is one of my warm bath authors. I haven’t really read his most famous series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but I have certainly visited 44 Scotland Street, stopped in at Corduroy Mansions, and tackled the imponderables with Isabelle Dalhousie, editor of the Review of Applied Ethics.

Freddie de la Hay

Freddie de la Hay

Over the years of reading him, I formed a firm opinion that Alexander McCall Smith is a very nice person; one with whom it would be a pleasure to share a meal. Or a cup of tea. Or a cup of something else, as I’m not really all that fond of tea.

Anyone who names a Pimlico terrier Freddie de la Hay has got to be good company, right?

And then came an invitation to have brunch with him. Along with twenty or so others, naturally, but still a small enough group so that if Alexander McCall Smith is not a nice person, I would be able to tell. Arrogance, self-importance, condescension are qualities that do not hide out effectively in small groups.

I actually thought about not going, opting for happy fantasy over realism. But as I firmly believe that reality exists to be faced, even at the cost of one’s own comfort, I went. Reality, after all, is the substance of life; fantasy, the froth.


Alexander McCall Smith turns out to be delightful! Completely, entirely, delightful. He has a wickedly gentle sense of humor, is not pompous in the least, and seems perfectly willing to enjoy himself amidst a bunch of strangers. The highest compliment I can think to give him is that he would fit right in at one of his character’s dinner parties. I had a really, really, really good time chatting with him.

As to the point of this post – and yes there is a point, as other wise what would be the point of posting?

My brunch with Alexander McCall Smith reinforced a belief I’ve long held that life holds plenty of good times that will roll if  I just stay out of the way.

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