by Kristy Woodson Harvey
Publication date: April 25, 2017
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books
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.
* * *
Slightly South of Simple is an emotional and brilliant novel that kept me completely spellbound.
From the beginning, I was really drawn into the story, and the characters and their strong bond are described amazingly by the author.
The storyline alternates Ansley and Caroline’s points of view and follows both the present time and memories of the past in which the reader will find out secrets and strong emotions that will help better define the strengths and flaws of the characters.
In Slightly South of Simple, Kristy has created a terrific character-driven story in a picturesque town. I loved every detail, and anecdote Ansley and Catherine share about Peachtree Bluff. Also, the conflicting emotions of Caroline being a New Yorker with a now evident southern temperament are traits of her personality I loved. Even if the events are observed from the perspective of Ansley and her first daughter, the author has presented all the important quirks of Sloane and Emerson’s characters, too.
While reading, I was also lost in the beauty of Ansley’s memories about the story with her husband, and I adored her strength in dealing with so many life’s difficulties.
That was the moment I realized that what you see in movies, what you read about in books, isn’t the good part. Not at all. The butterflies make you feel giddy and alive, and that’s sweet. But it’s what happens after that really matters. It’s the time you realize that your love has grown exponentially since that first day, when you discover that being someone’s wife, being in it for the long haul, having someone there beside you day in and day out, is so much better than any roses on Valentine’s day or any first-date-jitters you could ever have.
That was when I was strong again. Because that’s what marriage is. When your partner is falling apart, you have to buck up. Plain and simple.
Right now, I can’t wait to read more about this extraordinary cast of characters in The Secret To Southern Charm, and I’m pleased to recommend this first book in the series.
In my opinion, this book absolutely deserves five stars out of five.