By turns hilarious and poignant, the lives of three vibrant and unique Southern women -- a proper Atlanta matron, her rebellious teenage daughter, and their housekeeper's young daughter -- intersect in unexpected and extraordinary ways in this richly compelling debut novel of family, friendship, and folly.
Louise is the mother of two children, living a cushy life in Atlanta with her lawyer husband and two children. Caroline is Louise's teenage daughter with a mind of her own. Missy is the young daughter of Louise's housekeeper who has her own ideas of how one should live their life. It's interesting to follow the lives of these three southern women through what becomes eight very important years in each of their lives.
As Louise's children are growing up, she realizes that her life is also changing. She begins to look back on the choices she has made, sometimes feeling regret. At the same time we learn a lot about her childhood and how she became the woman she is today. We meet Caroline when she is seventeen years old, very headstrong, thinking she has the world figured out. As the story unfolds we see her grow into a responsible adult and in her relationships even seemingly moving backward towards some of the patterns she used to criticize her mother for. Missy was very young when her father walked out on her and her mother without ever looking back. She always had the idea that one day he would come back and the bond between them would never again be broken. Missy's quest to find her dad is enlightening for her.
This is a book I enjoyed very much. Each cleverly titled chapter is written in the first person alternating between each of our three protagonists. This gives you a sense of who will be telling that part of the story. The year is also given to indicate how much time has passed since we last heard from them. This enables the story to move through time smoothly and without slow parts. This technique works wonderfully for this book. The story begins in 1999 and ends in 2008.
One of the things I liked about this book was the beautiful cover. It's vibrant colors and the femininity of the barefoot woman in a sundress carrying her high heel is appealing. They used the technique of the 'headless' girl, which is very popular with publishers these days. It gives an anonymity to the character, allowing the reader to form their own images in their minds eye.
I also liked the characters, but my favorite is Louise. I liked the way she dealt with the changes in her life as her children grew up and she realizes that there's more to her than being a mother and a wife. She's not afraid of new challenges. My favorite thing about this story is the bond that forms between Caroline and her mother. Louise wants Caroline to be true to herself and not sacrifice her dreams for someone else. She and Caroline also discover qualities in each other that were always there, but were skewed by normal parent/child conflicts.
This is a great book for anyone who loves southern fiction with equal parts of drama and humor. It's a quick read that I really enjoyed, mainly because I liked the characters. I wanted to keep reading to see what happened to them. I also liked the ending. I could picture it in my mind and I felt happily content upon finishing the book. This is Susan Rebecca White's first novel and I think it is very good. I will not hesitate to pick up her next book. She will always have a spot on my bookshelf.
Author: Susan Rebecca White
Published: February 10th, 2009