Monday, December 18, 2017

G937 Book Review of slightly south of simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Name of Book: Slightly South of Simple

Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5805-6

Publisher: Gallery Books

Part of a Series: Peachtree Bluff

Type of book: Sisters, mothers, first love, secrets, debts, 9/11, widowhood, single parenting, pregnancy, relationships, bonds, Georgia, South, New York, summer/spring, season

Year it was published: 2017

Summary:

From the next “major voice in Southern fiction” (New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand) comes the first in an all-new series chronicling the journeys of three sisters and their mother—and a secret from their past that has the potential to tear them apart and reshape their very definition of what it means to be a family.

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she'd spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley's life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.

Characters:

Main characters include Ansley, Caroline, Sloane, Emerson, Carter, Jack and Ansley's mother. Ansley is best described as an independent woman who enjoys her children and grandchildren a lot. She is a designer and although she misses her husband she strikes me as a woman happy with her life and what she has made of it. Caroline is Ansley's oldest daughter. She is best described as vain, selfish and someone who is extremely passionate about New York and being a wealthy stay-at-home mother. Caroline is also obsessed with veneers and will do whatever she can to look her best. Recently her husband admitted that he has fallen out of love with her, therefore she goes back to Georgia to get her bearings straight. Sloane is Caroline's polar opposite. Sloane married a man devoted to military and she could care less how she looks or what she eats or where she is at. She is laid back and tries not to make a big deal that her husband isn't there to help raise her sons. Emerson is the youngest daughter and is beautiful and an actress. When she arrived it is thought she suffered from anorexia. She is focused more on career than relationships and out of the three sisters she is the mysterious one in my opinion. Carter is the girls' father who has perished in 9/11 and who also had secrets that haunt Ansley. Jack is Ansley's first love and is uncertain what he wanted from life when he and Ansley were younger. Ansley's mother, I believe, suffers from dementia (alzheimers) but she notices far more than she should.

Theme:

Sisterhood is strong

Plot:

The story is written in first person narrative from Caroline and Ansley's points of view. Perhaps like many other reviewers, I found Caroline hard to relate to, but at the same that made her all the more interesting. Most of the story is used to build up the background of Ansley and Caroline, although there are present moments of where sisters spend time together and how they are there for one another through thick and thin. Relationships between Ansley and her daughters as well as between the sisters is complex but at the same time its a relief that the sisters are close to one another. What I found a bit confusing is the passage of time because in beginning Caroline is almost 9 months when she returns to Peachtree Bluff, but at the end her child is about 3 or so months? I also was confused whether or not in one of the chapters she returns back to New York but then comes back to Peachtree Bluff (towards the end.)

Author Information:
(From the book)

Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love and the founder of Design Chic, a popular interior design blog. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Southern Living, Domino, Our State, Houzz, Salisbury Post and the New Bern Sun Journal. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Visit Kristy at kristywoodsonharvey.com or n Instagram @kristywharvey.

Opinion:

This isn't the first Women's fiction/summer beach read I've read; I've read Women's fiction/summer beach read novels that focus on friendship, on family, and on romance. This novel is different from others I've read in that the point of view is of mother and daughter instead of sisters' or friends' or former lovers. What is also different is that the story acts as an intriguing set up for future books and it doesn't wrap up neatly. Also as well, romance plays a secondary role with the sisters and mother rather than the main one. And yes, this book features women who are mothers rather than 20 to 30 something old sex and the city type women. For me also, the story is of real life rather than something contrived where a lot of things conclude a little too neatly. I do hope to get a chance to read the sequel and learn more about Sloane and Ansley and see more of Caroline. For an interesting and unique read, I highly recommend Slightly South of Simple.

This was given for an honest review

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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