December 2020 Publisher’s Choice
“A Winter Friend”
By Rose Mary Stiffin, PhD
Reviewed by Anita Finley
A Winter Friend is Dr. Stiffin’s third novel we are featuring here, and she continues to invent more with every passing day. I must say that every one of her novels I have had the pleasure of reading has brought me such joy and relaxation, something I need in today’s world.
When I first spoke to Dr. Stiffin, she was articulate and deeply passionate about my reviewing all her current novels, not just one which we usually do each month. I hope I have adequately expressed in each review I wrote, the suspense, the deep feelings that her words gave to her characters, and the happy and sometimes turbulent experiences that swept over many of their circumstances.
A Winter Friend is about how circumstances that evolve by people’s actions often bring out a variety of emotions and can cause irreparable damage that sets the stage for situations that they normally don’t have any control over. This was the case with Connie, the heroine, a mother and her five children who found themselves alone and almost destitute after her husband left them because of his despair. I was happy to see he changed his mind, and he was coming home to work it out. Bang! Then another unforeseen accident changed all that. And he will never be coming home!
The author tells us the dates that each chapter’s story runs, starting her book on January 31st. So much has happened by February 3rd that moves life’s challenges along, you will have to take a deep breath to see where it is leading. Yes, there are many characters that are introduced, but one whom will play an especially important part in Connie and her family’s future life. The final book chapter ends on June 12th, years, and possibilities later.
Many of Dr. Stiffin’s stories have people who hurt someone which intensifies the reader’s emotions, and the anger and disappointment usually evolves into a hero who doesn’t quite ride up on a white horse, but it would be nice if that happened. As A Winter Friend moves along, the original family’s kids are now part of the actions, which provide another set of characters. I am so impressed with the character development in the author’s novels. That is the main reason that they flow along and are so believable.
The title of the book emphasizes summer friends versus winter friends. When you find even one winter friend, that is the essence of a perfect match. In the back of the book, the author proposes discussion questions which help book clubs as well as the reader to better interpret what the book is meant to impart, in all its happy and sad experiences, Dr. Stiffin does a wonderful job with these emotions.
Here is one of many testimonials of A Winter Friend: “An inspiring tale both from tragedy, disappointment, hope and perseverance. A great work of fiction. Dr. Stiffin has shown that her work maintains depth and credibility.
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Rose Mary Stiffin, Ph.D. was raised and educated in Indianola, Mississippi, the hometown of the blues legend, BB King. She received her Bachelor of Art degree in Chemistry from Mississippi Valley State University (1974), her Master of Science degree in Organic Chemistry from Mississippi State University (1981), and her Ph.D. (Biochemistry) from the University of Tennessee in Memphis (1995). She did her post-doctoral work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. She is the Chair of the Division of Health and Natural Sciences at Florida Memorial University, a small HBCU located in Miami Gardens, FL.