A review of Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

It is difficult for landlocked midwesterners to visualize a vacation house built on stilts and situated off shore in the Atlantic Ocean. But there were actually such structures off the coast of Florida, and Susanna Daniel's first novel, Stiltsville, brings them alive with the story of one family and its vacation house. The book begins when Frances, the narrator, who is visting from Atlanta is introduced both to Stiltsville in Miami's Biscayne Bay and to her future husband, Dennis, whose family owns one of the stilt houses. She is taken there by a woman she met at a wedding, who, although she has her eye on Dennis, quickly becomes Frances's best friend. This story of Frances's and Dennis's marriage slowly unfolds, beginning with courtship, and moving onto the birth of their daughter, and eventually to the daughter's marriage.

Susanna Daniel is particularly effective at describing the history and lifestyle of south Florida, beginning in 1969, and covering a period of several decades that included societal changes and urbanization, hurricanes, and the murders at the University at Gainesville. These events are effectively included along with the details of everyday life of the characters which include friends and family membersof the couple. She writes from the present, looking back at Frances's life and handles the decades-long time span of the story very well. My one minor criticism is with this style; I found the frequent use of hindsight to be somewhat distracting and unnecessary. Ms. Daniel is a promising young author and was a featured speaker at last year's Wisconsin Book Festival, always a great venue for discovering interesting new authors. Although her bio states she grew up Florida, she is currently a Madison resident. This well written story of a marriage and life in southern Florida makes her a writer to watch.


Another awards committee title I'm responsible for and have yet to get to.

Stiltsville author Susanna Daniel will headline the 15th annual Book Club Café, hosted by the Friends of Madison Public Library at Olbrich Gardens on Thursday, May 10, 2012.  Stay tuned for details!

When is the 2012 Book Club Café registration going to be available?
You mentioned it will be on Thursday, May 10, 2012. Is that for sure?

May 10, 2012 is the date. Registration should begin within two weeks, and we'll send you a message when it starts.

Susanna Daniel will also be at the Sequoya Branch Tuesday December 13th to talk about her book as well as the fiction writing process. Talk starts at 7, come join us !