G1099 Book Review of The southern side of paradise by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Author: Kristy Woodson Harvey
Part of a Series: Peachtree Bluffs Trilogy
Type of book: Georgia, Peachtree Bluffs, sisterhood, motherhood, secrets, family, friends, unexpected changes, love, dreams vs desire, marriage, happiness
Year it was published: 2019
From internationally bestselling author and “rising star of Southern fiction” (Mary Alice Monroe, New York Times bestselling author) Kristy Woodson Harvey comes the third novel in her Peachtree Bluff series, in which a secret threatens the tight-knit bond between a trio of sisters and their mother.
With the man of her dreams back in her life and all three of her daughters happy, Ansley Murphy should be content. But she can’t help but feel like it’s all a little too good to be true.
Meanwhile, youngest daughter and actress Emerson, who is recently engaged and has just landed the role of a lifetime, seemingly has the world by the tail. Only, something she can’t quite put her finger on is worrying her—and it has nothing to do with her recent health scare.
When two new women arrive in Peachtree Bluff—one who has the potential to wreck Ansley’s happiness and one who could tear Emerson’s world apart—everything is put in perspective. And after secrets that were never meant to be told come to light, the powerful bond between the Murphy sisters and their mother comes crumbling down, testing their devotion to each other and forcing them to evaluate the meaning of family.
With Kristy Woodson Harvey’s signature charm, wit, and heart, The Southern Side of Paradise is another masterful Peachtree Bluff novel that proves she is a “Southern writer with staying power” (Booklist).
Main characters include Ansley and Emerson while the sisters of Caroline and Sloane and their families take on secondary roles in the tale. From the previous two books, one expects Emerson to be happy because she had reunited with her high school sweetheart and has landed a role of a lifetime. But soon the reader learns that her fiance isn't happy with her in Hollywood and due to his background of coming from a family where he came third, if at all, he wishes that Emerson would sacrifice her dreams, which leaves Emerson in a position of trying to balance between her dreams and her happiness. Ansley has also finally found happiness, but after being a single mother to three girls for so long, she seems to be afraid of trying to grasp it or to believe it, and often she puts her daughters first over her first crush, Jack. Sloane and Caroline are also trying to work out their own issues, but there isn't a lot of focus on them, which makes sense because the reader has previously gotten to know them in the last two books.
Life is one big surprise
Just like the prequels, SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE and THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN CHARM, the tale is told in first person narrative from Emerson's and Ansley's points of view. And yes, the secrets and revelations that were revealed in the previous two books get wrapped up in this one, so reading the previous two is a must. (And if not, why not read them anyways to get introduced to a lot of awesome primary and secondary characters?) It's heartwarming and a real summer treat among the hot days. The story didn't drag on, and there is focus on realism of developing characters as well as showing how we are more than caricatures. Also, just when you think you figured life out, lots more curve balls will get thrown towards you.
(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, Traditional Home, Parade, USA Today, and Domino. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. Visit Kristy at kristywoodsonharvey.com or on Instagram @kristywharvey.
Kristy Woodson Harvey's previous book, THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN CHARM has already set high expectations when it came to the series finale of THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE, thus I expected the book to be good, but I didn't expect it to blow both of them out of the water so to speak. The characters of Emerson and Ansley really outshine, and I loved the drama and heart that followed numerous exposed secrets as well as facing up to some secrets that were introduced in the previous two books. Out of the three, THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF PARADISE is definitely a top favorite out of the year. There is plenty of conflict, of tension, but above all there is emphasis on familial ties between the women and the men in their lives as well as the fact that we are complex and flawed human beings. I am only sorry to be reviewing it so late, and I am sorry that this is the last book in Peachtree Bluff Series because I'm not quite ready to leave the Murphy alone yet.
I was given this for a review
5 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.)