Gertrude Barkley continually shocks the residents of Venice, Missouri. A published author and an independent, unmarried spirit, Gertrude bobs her hair and starts up a new "roar" of gossip. But to Gertrude's adolescent niece, Claire, she is wonderful.

Their neighbor Mikolai Stefanski thinks so, too. The self-made businessman had arrived in Missouri as a poor Polish immigrant with a young son and, through hard work, is now a respected member of the community. To Mikolai, Gertrude's spunk makes her a woman to be admired.

When Claire finds one of Gertrude's old journals, the scandalous discoveries make for some delightful misunderstandings. Bent on bringing her aunt together with her one true love, Mikolai, Claire joins Teddy Stefanski on a wild scheme to right an old wrong and get something shady out in the open.

Warmth emanates from the pages of this utterly charming novel. Pamela Morsi manages to capture the aura of innocence that existed in America before WWI. Her characters, their community and these seemingly simple lives typify what made this decade so special. It is a time and a feeling that only a precious few writers can record with such eloquence; Pamela Morsi is among the best. SENSUAL (July, 326 pp., $5.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin