Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, where welcoming the weekend means, you guessed it, new additions for YOUR reading lists.
Today, we're cracking the spine on the third release (though only the second that I've read) from an author that's no stranger to the site. We warmly welcomed The Secret Sense of Wildflower a few years ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it I might add, and now the author is back with another Southern fried tale of love, friendship, family, and SECRETS. Ready or not, here comes today's book of choice...
Wild Lily Arts
About the book...
Every family has secrets, but the elite Temple family of Savannah has more than most. To maintain their influence, they’ve also been documenting the indiscretions of other prestigious southern families, dating as far back as the Civil War. When someone begins leaking these tantalizing tidbits to the newspaper, the entire city of Savannah, Georgia is rocking with secrets.
The current keeper of the secrets and matriarch of the Temple clan is Iris, a woman of unpredictable gastrointestinal illnesses and an extra streak of meanness that even the ghosts in the Temple mansion avoid. When Iris unexpectedly dies, the consequences are far flung and significant, not only to her family—who get in line to inherit the historic family mansion—but to Savannah itself.
At the heart of the story is Old Sally, an expert in Gullah folk magic, who some suspect cast a voodoo curse on Iris. At 100 years of age, Old Sally keeps a wise eye over the whole boisterous business of secrets and the settling of Iris's estate.
In the Temple family, nothing is as it seems, and everyone has a secret.
As I write this, I'm coming off of a 10 hour shift (hey, it's less then the past 2 days where it's been 12 a piece...I'm grateful!) and listening to a band I saw once-upon-a-time at a local club, The Freddy Jones Band. I guess it put me in the mood to settle down for a while with something familiar and let my fingers fly across the virtual page with recollections of my adventure.
Story wise, it develops slowly, much like a lazy afternoon passed in the heat of the summer in the South. It's not easy to step into right away and I admit, I wasn't really feeling the connection immediately like I did in her previous work. HOWEVER, I'm not one to give up easily, especially when prior experiences have led me to the assumptions I'm making. I kept reading and sure enough, the pieces started to come together to form a picture well worth the frame. We see a woman who knows who she is and makes sure the world does too. She wields power like a farmer yields a sickle; with caution when directed at herself but viciously if she feels encroached upon in the slightest. I found it profoundly funny when the power began to shift with the revelation of the secrets she was lording over people all these years. Just goes to show you that honesty is the best policy. Something to remember the next time you;re tempted. The affect on the townspeople when their dirty little secrets started making an appearance was remarkable. Rarely was the reaction something quiet and shielding; usually it was more along the lines of demonstrations and vandalism. It all builds up to a crescendo of revelations who may have guessed at in some fashion, but never could have truly known. Now, the real masterpiece here though isn't even the story, it's the characters within it.
I'm not a fan of overly large casts simply because I don't like unnecessary introductions and can tend to forget those smaller players when things branch out too far. (Hey, we did say honesty was the best policy...) Here, we have the perfect balance for each one is important in their own right and carries a bit of the story within their little paper souls. From Iris, the vile woman pulling the strings like a possessed puppetmaster, to Edward, her son that's been affected far more than we know by his mother's actions over the years, Rose, the loving daughter she disowns, to Queenie, the half-sister Iris barely acknowledges despite her constant presence; there's not a soul represented in the flesh or otherwise (ah yes, the Temples have a way of clinging to life, after life) that you won't feel closer to (or reviled by) as things progress. Favorite characters if forced to choose would be Old Sally for her kind heart, old soul, and motherly ways despite all life has thrown at her. Least favorite is actually a toss up between Iris and Edward but seeing how the latter is a result of the formers parenting and such, I guess the prize goes to Iris. (Congrats on being the villain of the hour!) Who knew a little old lady in her declining years could be such a firecracker in the worst sense of the word?!
Overall, I think part of my disconnect initially was simply because Iris is a pretty hateful woman. It was REALLY hard to like her for anything with all the venom she was spewing and though one might presume it got easier with her passing, not so much here for those Temple's have a way of sticking around for better....and worse. (This one's lack of departure certainly scores more points in the WORSE than BETTER categories.) So if you're looking for a good companion to while away a summer afternoon, take a look at this little gem and see how the true power we hold (and should use) doesn't come from hatred and close mindedness but from the heart.
About the author...
(Susan Gabriel was) Born next to third oldest river in the world. Loves to laugh. Into symbolism, trees, wildlife, my family, intuition. Writer of courageous and transformational stories.
Special thanks to author Susan Gabriel for sharing her gift with the world and the SIGNED review copy. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, her full body of works, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now via Wild Lily Arts, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!