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Book Review: They Called Me Margaret

They Called Me Margaret. Florence Osmund. Self-published, January 31, 2018, Trade Paperback and E-book, 322 pages.

Reviewed by Deb Lecos.

They Called Me Margaret is a work of fiction, a creative telling of an author who suddenly finds her ordinary life filled with intrigue, much like the plotlines for the “cozy mystery” novels she creates. Florence Osmund answers the question, “Is everything as it seems?” And the answer in this vibrant tale is “no.”

The author brings a reader along on a turbulent six-month period in Margaret’s—a.k.a. Mags, Maggie, Marge, Madge, Margie’s—life. About to open a bookstore, her twenty-one-year marriage is suddenly in shambles. Margaret’s challenging and injured mother-in-law must necessarily become a long-term houseguest and her twenty-year-old daughter is incommunicado and perhaps missing in Costa Rica. In the midst of all this familial upheaval, personal items, like a Limoges box with a pearl earring inside, a watch with a personalized inscription “Time is a Gift,” and a silver bracelet disappear in a manner reminiscent of one of Margaret’s mysteries.

When we meet Margaret, she and her husband, Carl, have arrived at their lake house, and she has just learned he has never fully read any of her novels. This sets her to wondering if her marriage is as good as she has assumed. Carl’s flirtation with a neighbor doesn’t help matters, nor does his frequent, inexplicable disappearances. Not certain she has a stable marriage, Margaret feels unsafe, and flashes her story back to when her mother left the home when she was a six-year-old child. It is stunning timing when her mother chooses to return as everything dramatically falls apart, and Margaret fully realizes that nothing is what it seems.

Side characters run throughout the book: Darlene, the woman Carl appears enamored by, Lance, Darlene’s husband who is brutally injured when an unknown assailant hits him from behind, and Portia, Carl and Margaret’s daughter who arrives unannounced with tragic news. When Margaret is struck with a sudden, and difficult to diagnose illness, Katherine, Margaret’s mother-in-law, and her freshly returned mother are primary players in coordinating the opening of the store and maintaining the business.

Ms. Osmund’s many-plotted novel comes across as a mystery movie with threads going in multiple directions, purposely done as a means to distract a detective- viewer from getting to the final discovery too soon. While this is successful, some of the material is not expanded for moments of poignancy and therefore, deeper relationships with the characters may be difficult to achieve.

Throughout, the author weaves in helpful hints to writers regarding self-publishing, boosting creativity, and writing-time allotment. There are many writer-isms which bring a homey-scribe feel to those who play with sentences. Margaret isn’t an easy character and has traits, like those many writers carry, that she blends into the story, including a propensity to desire long hours of seclusion and criticizing word choice as though life is a game of Scrabble. It is those “flaws” that can make Margaret relatable to wordy-readers. 

As I read this story, and as Margaret’s dream for a bookstore became a hard-won reality, I celebrated her success and hoped for a return to this character’s good health so she may enjoy her efforts. They Called Me Margaret is an enjoyable read for those lazy summer afternoons and low-key winter nights, and the chapters fly by as the plots are followed to the final, unusual reveal.


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