Book Review: Just Doll

By Katelyn Calautti

Flagler College Spring Writer-in-residence, Janice Daugharty, is known for her Southern-style storytelling that brings to life memorable feisty, independent female characters from Daugharty’s native South Georgia. Her latest novel, Just Doll, part of the Staten Bay Trilogy, introduces Doll Baxter, a woman whose strong personality many readers will aspire to.

The novel begins on a blazing hot and sweaty August day in 1887, when Doll Baxter must take on big responsibilities after the death of her father. The novel takes place in the late 1800’s, but the reader still feels a strong connection with Doll’s beliefs as a person. Being forced to take charge of the family’s plantation, along with her sister, Sheba, and their mother, life is anything but easy.

Doll remains strong and determined to pay off family debt and work hard for what they have left: their land. Young, strong, loyal and independent, Doll does not let anyone tell her otherwise. “She’s real pretty…but ain’t a sweet bone in her body.”

Not on Doll’s agenda is Daniel Staten, an older handsome, wealthy man, demanding to marry her. How will this go over with such a young, independent, woman who has her mind on other things? A woman who must save her family land? Daniel does not understand Doll’s strong desire to stay true to herself and not let others influence her ideas. Aware of her beauty, Doll has grown up never having to listen to others tell her what she can and cannot accomplish. “…if you’re pretty. Leaves you forever trying to figure out who to trust and how to get people to take you serious.”

But Daniel will not take no for an answer, he must have Doll. “They say there isn’t a man in the county can get within two feet of her and every single one of them dying to.” Everyone knows she will not change her ways just for Daniel —until it involves saving her mother’s plantation.

According to the New York Times Book Review, Daugharty’s prose is “Sensuous, swift, full of sparkling twists, (Daugharty’s) is a voice so rich that a single page can be thrilling.” Daugharty will be on the Flagler College campus next week to speak to students about her work.

The following events are free and open to the public:
Reading: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 6:30 p.m., Flagler Room, Ponce Hall
The Craft of Writing: Wednesday, Jan. 31, 5 p.m., Flagler Room, Ponce Hall

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