Review: Dona Nicanora’s Hat Shop by Kirstan Hawkins

Summary (from Goodreads):

Dona Nicanora is a woman led by her dreams. She imagines adventures far beyond her small, swampy South American village, and ideally quite far away from her relentless family and neighbours. It’s quite simple: what she needs is the love of a good man, and a shop full of her own beautifully handcrafted hats. But Nicanora’s life is never quite straightforward. And from the day an entirely silent stranger arrives in Villa de la Virgen, strange happenings occur, and Dona Nicanora’s world is turned on its head.

Here is a bittersweet tale of hopes frustrated and fulfilled, with an irresistible love story at its heart.


So, when I picked up this book, I was expecting there to be more about Dona Nicanora’s Hat Shop, as the title suggested, but instead what I found was a cast of colorful characters that were quirky, eccentric, lovable, and down-right crazy (that I could not help falling in love with, and that I cheered for), and a bitter-sweet story about family relationships, friendship, political incompetency, loss, and love.

Hawkins’ strength is her ability to place the reader in the time and place of the story so vividly that as I read the novel, Dona Nicanora’s house, the Plaza, Don Bosco’s Barber Shop, and the clinic became a part of my life, making me feel as if I were a part of their lives, the way they had become a part of mine.

No part of this story was dull or stagnant — it was engaging and totally worth the read, even if the end did leave me with a tear in my eye, and a lump in my throat.



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