The New York Times best-selling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family's buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it secret by shattering secret.
It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward's husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news - Cal's family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal's reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt. Charting the course of an uncertain life - and feeling guilt from her husband's tragic death - Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal's unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt's, will change and define her as she navigates her new life - a new life complicated by the arrival of her too-young stepmother and 10-year-old half brother.
Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.
©2015 Harley House Books, LLC (P)2015 Recorded Books
In all honesty, I struggled getting into this book at first. Living in the South and loving Beaufort, SC myself, I figured this book was perfect for me to read. But, between the prologue and the first six chapters or so, I got so lost in the web of characters - who was attached to whom and how - my excitement to continue reading diminished. I had to put the book down and pick it back up at a later date, and write out notes to keep track of all the details that are front-loaded into the book, in order to really get into the book.
AND BOY, AM I GLAD I GAVE IT A SECOND CHANCE!
The author packs so much into this book - forgiveness, family, mystery, romance, secrets, fear, unknown connections, domestic violence, protecting each other, history, letting go, and Southern Charm - it's filled to the brim with thoughtful prose and conflicted characters. How are all these characters so elegantly tied to each other over the span of decades?
I felt for Merritt and understood her fear and independence, but more so her distrust of those around her. I adored Loralee and her sweet nibblets of wisdom. I respected her ability to face a hurt and cold Merritt to try to build a relationship. I fell in love with Gibbes and how he never gave up.
The story sucked me in with my voracious desperation to solve this mystery. It made me laugh and love and think, and it definitely made me cry. And by the end, I was so mad it was over because I wasn't ready to be done with these characters yet.
The narrators did a fantastic job at bringing the characters to life and ensuring the pace of the book flowed properly.
The story is "real", I listened on my way to and from work and any book that can make you laugh out load, or cry, and touch on everyday issues is a job well done. There are so may emotions wrapped up into this story you can't help but "feel" the story as well. This book will change someone's life and give someone the strength to break free or help someone find closure.
When Merritt say's thank you for the sewing machine. As the reader you are waiting on the edge for these two women to form a bond and for Merritt to let go of the past and start to heal. I think the sewing machine scene depicts the real turning point for these two character's. The patience, love and support Lora Lee has for her step daughter, in spite of all she herself is dealing with, is very inspiring.
I've only listened to Susan Bennett and she was fabulous. This was a first listen for me with Therese Plumbers and I enjoyed the narration completely.
Yes, this book made me both laugh and cry.
Highly recommend this book, it is a great read!
Avid fiction listener from Australia who not ashamed to have a biased for what some may call 'chicklit'. Keen for new author suggestions
This novel surprised me from beginning to end. Wise, funny, colourful and so touching, I found myself rewinding passages again and again to glean its wisdom. Beautifully performed, this is the kind of audiobook that reminds me why this new art form takes the words on the page and brings them to life.
It is so much more than I can describe here so please do yourself a favour and buy this book x
This story, set present time, briefly flashes back to the 1950's and forward. It touches lightly on physical abusive but not in any detail. It's a story about young women trying to start over. She has shut everyone out of her life. Parts of the book are pretty predicable. I can not relate to the main character at all. Most 20 something women do not act that way she did. The narration got annoying towards the end. I guess it was the "southern accent" twang of a couple of the characters. The first half of the book was better than the last half. I almost didn't finish it. It became a little cheesy.
I review books and audiobooks, mostly mystery, police procedurals, That's about it!
It actually took a few chapters before the book hooked me, as to be honest, I did find the early part of the story a little confusing and I had to re listen so as to sort out who was who. That done, I didn't look back and was soon immersed in this intriguing tale of Merritt and the family who were strangers to her. She was barely in the door of her new home when who should arrive on her doorstep but her stepmother Loralee with her ten year old son Owen, Merritts half brother. Loralee, the young, beautiful ex flight attendant with the big hair, who never faced the world without her lipstick and a big smile. This was the woman whose marraige to Merritts' father had been the cause of the deep rift between them, the woman Merritt dismissed as trailer trash, an airhead out for what she could get. Loralee and Owen had come to stay awhile. Much as she craved solitude, Merritt felt she could hardly refuse so grudgingly permitted them to stay, making it clear that it was only to be for a short while.
Merrit had also been unaware of the existence of a brother in law, Gibbes, he hadn't lived in the old house for years and wanted to retrieve a few of his boyhood possessions. Gibbes proved to be a far different man than Cal, his brother and Merritts late husband. This is how the relationships between the four of them began, of Merritts growing love for her nerdy little brother and her realisation that, after all, they are both grieving for the same daddy. Of her unquestioning acceptance of his attempts to become "cool" when he announces that he now wants to be known as Rocky, not Owen. Of how Gibbes proves himself to be so different to his abusive troubled brother, and of how Merritt grudgingly comes to accept Loralee as she truly is. Then, of course, there is the mystery and suspense! Exactly what secrets does that old attic hold? Well, you must read the book to discover how the mysteries are unravelled and of how the relationships develop.
I just love a good story, one where part of me wants to rush on to find out what comes next, but yet another part of me doesn't want it to end because I'm enjoying it too much and author Karen White knows exactly how to write such a story. Mystery, intrigue, pathos, romance, it's all here, just a warning though, this book does speak of spousal abuse, something which the publishers summary omits to mention, so should you find the subject to be distressing, be warned. In summary, this is beautifully and sensitively written and is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Narrated by Susan Bennett and Therese Pummer who both did a wonderful job, so easy to listen to with their lovely voices. Both masters of pace and timing, I'm not American, so am not qualified to judge American accents, but they sounded really good to me. I thought both age and gender changes were totally believable, I had no trouble in differentiating the characters. I'm not sure why two narrators were thought to be necessary though, as both seemed more than capable of telling the whole story as a solo performance, nevertheless, this audiobook is a quality production.
I purchased this audiobook from Audible.com, this review is my honest opinion.
In the beginning, I wasn't sure I was going to like this book; several things in the beginning were too predictable for my taste, but Karen White threw in enough other plot turns that I appreciated, and Her use of figurative language was appealing. My favorite character was Loralee; the author portrayed her creatively, and the narrator breathed life into her beautifully. The reader for Merritt, too, was great.
Tell me about a good book. No other gifts necessary.
In my mind, Karen White's more recent books are to be read from hardcover and savored. They just don't lend themselves well to even the most skillful female narrators. The range of characters and emotions requires an extraordinary unearthly range of voices. Putting that completely aside, this has become one of my two most favorite female "chick lit" books - a real found treasure. It explores a horrible topic in the most extraordinary, loving, and illuminating way. And Laura Lee! You have to know Laura Lee. Read this book, or listen to it, but you have to know this book. It is simply extraordinary.
This is a beautiful story crafted with love and care. It taught me things I did not know and it was so entertaining I could not put it down. Great novels do that, showing us how to love characters we would automatically shun in real life, so that when we next meet someone similar, we will think twice before passing simplistic judgement.
Seeking the Truth
This novel contains way too much of a good thing; it is absolutely, entirely too long. More than once I wanted to stop listening completely, and I gratefully welcomed the end. I would have rated it 3.8 had at least a quarter of the writing been skillfully redacted by an editor, but it now deserves no more than a 3. A saccharin-sweet depiction of the South (and I'm a Southerner) was often irritating, but parts of the novel were very well-written. The narrator did a nice job, but I swear I heard even HER sigh near the end.
I love all genres of books. However, when I listen to audio books as I clean, garden, drive they are better with a lot of heat!
I chose this book at random, having never read anything by the author before. I've have listened other books that did the back and forth narration/view point between present-day characters, interspersed with a narrative that had taken place years ago. It is an effective technique to fill in gaps and do a slow reveal to a secret. The first half of the book, I thought, moved well and introduced the characters. They were flawed and not always likable, but I like that in characters and it kept pulling me along. Even though I felt there was a bit too much sad and not enough glad.
Unfortunately, the second half of the book was trite and predictable and almost seemed to be written by a different person. It lost my interest. Nothing surprised me, there was nothing new that we haven't read or seen hundreds of times already. It was disappointing.
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