Short Story Collection  

  Marvelous Secrets
   by Marian Coe
   SouthLore Press, 2000
   ISBN: 0-9633341-8-2
Marian Coe’s collection of short stories and poems are “marvelous secrets” of empowerment for women.  Each story reflects a life event that causes the main character to make a choice that moves them into a stronger, independent existence.  The stories speak especially to women over thirty-five who are reaching the period of questioning the choices they have made as career women, wives and mothers. 

“Local Color” sets the sense of place and tone of the collection as one of changing for the better.  Sally Riddle through her Saved Treasures Shop newsletter relates the ongoing battle of main street stores against developers and discount chain stores.  Through a little colorful planning and networking, the town of Green Mountain Gap, North Carolina is given new life. 

“Marvelous Secrets” is the name of a quaint shop of antiques and books.  The owner Marta Treadwell shares her story of how she escaped her safe, dull life as the wife of a womanizer.  A visit to the upstairs room where she cared for her eccentric mother remind her of the dreams she put aside for others – who were undeserving of that gift.  A course of events is set off in that room.  Her husband breaks both legs in an accident to be cared for by his mistress.  Marta befriends Hetty Tyndale and her son Reggie.  Her dreams come true. 

“Bushes” is a witty tale of sweet revenge.  Libby lives in a Florida condo complex and values the privacy her high bushes provide her from the deteriorating buildings and neighbors.  The president of the condo association passes an order to have all the bushes cut below the windows, thus destroying Libby’s private world of an imaginary English garden.  Through a little creative maneuvering, Libby gets a cat for the president’s wife, goes to England, and plans to run for president of the association with a beautification agenda.   

“Pretty Is As Pretty Does” follows the journey home to Alabama for Alice Ann and seeing how time has colored the lives of three cousins.  Cousin Kate became a military wife, then returned home to care for her aging father.  Cousin Bitsy never left home and became the classic southern mother.  Alice Ann was a career woman who felt she had lost connection with her independent and successful daughter.  The journey home was to find a way to rediscover her family and reconnect with her daughter.   

Marian Coe, a former writer for the St. Petersburg Times, captures the transition of life through her stories with regional influence.  Marvelous Secrets ends with excerpts from Coe’s novels Eve’s Mountain and Legacy.  From her home on Sugar Mountain, Banner Elk, North Carolina, Coe is like a wise woman offering gems of truth for others to follow their dreams and discover their self-worth. 

Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews

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