There’s something almost mythic about the draw of a small town in a country setting. The image conjured is of cottages, rose gardens, sidewalks and narrow streets. It’s a place where cats sit in windows, dogs play in the park with children, and neighbors talk over picket fences while sipping their morning coffee. Villages are cozy and comforting and the kind of places that the secret heart of almost everyone yearns for, at least in his or her imagination. The pace of life is slower and sweeter. Friendships are easier. Families are closer.
Almost surely this is why cozy mysteries came to be called “cozies.” They are set in small towns where everyone knows everyone else and are linked by an alluring sense of community and shared bonds. In these rural, intimate settings, the cozy reader grows to feel comfortable and comforted. Recurring characters become friends, and with each new book in the cozy series, the reader has a chance to revisit this familiar little town and reconnect with the old friends who live there.
I can’t speak for every writer of a cozy series, but with each new Myrtle Grove Garden Club mystery I write, I enjoy every minute I spend in the company of Jesse, Vivian and Sophia and all of the other ladies of the garden club. I love the town of Myrtle Grove itself, and all of the regular characters who live there and contribute to each story. For me, each book is a homecoming.
And while the town of Myrtle Grove itself is fictional, it is a composite of many small towns and reflects elements that are real. Antique shops abound in hamlets woven between lakes and streams, farms and ranches, tucked down country roads and old highways bypassed by modern traffic. Tea shops still serve lunches to residents and tourists on vintage china in 80-year-old shops with creaking wood floors, high ceilings and plaster walls in place. Farmers’ markets enliven the weekends with local produce and hand-made crafts. These towns are part of a disappearing landscape that struggles to survive in a world quickly leaving them behind.
But they remain, and Myrtle Grove speaks for them. Small-town America is out there. Villages still exist, and if you go looking for them, you will find them. Growing old and imperfect in places, a little dingy and decrepit at times, and not always the thing of fairytales–they are there, waiting to be discovered, cozy and comforting. And the thing of dreams, at least for some of us.