Welcome back to the Friday edition of Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.
It's a simple fact that avid readers can't escape; reading streaks DO exist. I'm not talking about the quantity of books read, nor even the quality, but the reading enjoyment levels reached during the read. Fairly recently, I was riding a severe HIGH that gradually tapered out into a bit of a low...leading up to today's title. Which camp did it fall into? You'll see soon enough, but first...
Today, we're playing host to a blog tour via Pump Up Your Book that features a work of Southern Women's Fiction that'll have you craving a cozy rocker on a front porch with a cold glass of sweet tea. No, I'm not being dramatic, and I don't even LIKE iced tea (sorry, my Northern roots are showing, I mean SWEET tea) so that's saying something. Ladies and gents, if you'd be so kind as to keeping moseying through today's review starring...
About the book...
"Palmetto Moon" inspired "The Huffington Post" to rave, It is always nice to discover a new talented author and Kim Boykin is quite a find. Now, she delivers a novel of a woman picking up the pieces of her life with the help of two spirited, elderly sisters in South Carolina.
April, 1953. Nettie Gilbert has cherished her time studying to be a music teacher at Columbia College in South Carolina, but as graduation approaches, she can’t wait to return to her family and her childhood sweetheart, Brooks, in Alabama. But just days before her senior recital, she gets a letter from her mama telling her that Brooks is getting married . . . to her own sister.
Devastated, Nettie drops out of school and takes a job as live-in help for two old-maid sisters, Emily and Lurleen Eldridge. Emily is fiercely protective of the ailing Lurleen, but their sisterhood has weathered many storms. And as Nettie learns more about their lives on a trip to see a faith healer halfway across the country, she’ll discover that love and forgiveness will one day lead her home.
An enchanting read from cover to finish with endearing characters that leave their mark, one smile or sass at a time.
First things first though, let's talk cover. The beauty of the dress with fluffy crinoline. The sprig of flowers caught between fingers carefully grasping. The white heels on spring green grass. They all speak to time spent on a front lawn entertaining friends, family, and perhaps a beau in the warming southern sun. (Okay, so "warm" is definitely an understatement when talking about the heat down here, but it waxes more poetic in my review, so go with it. ^_^) Combine the scene with the equally eye catching font choice, polka dot inset, and matching color palette, and my word, it's almost too sweet to miss! I can honestly say that if I hadn't already sampled this author's writing, I would have picked it up by sight. Now, let's go beyond the cover...
The story, oh that story! MY word. The first book I read from this author was Palmetto Moon, and I was stunned by the way she could place me in the story with her characters just so, making their pain, my pain, their joy, my joy, and so on. It was sweet and sassy for steadfast Southern Lit fans as well as those just getting into the genre. This book, hits all the same notes and then some. The tale reads like everyday life, long distance love gone sour in the most vile of ways and new beginnings sought where they were never meant to be with far reaching outcomes never imagined. Sometimes I think that's the true beauty in a story like this, the way you're captivated by things that aren't that much of a stretch or fantastical and yet they seem to be. Does it all work out for our lovely leading lady? Now that's a can of beans I can't spill, but I will introduce you around if you'd like.
Though the story holds its own, it would be nothing without this gorgeous cast of characters. Sorry, but it's true! You need sweet Nettie, set on seeing her college dreams come true only to have the rug pulled out from her by those she held closest to her heart. Camden would be a MUCH duller place without the Eldridge sisters wit and vigor. Emily and her sassy never-met-a-gent-she-didn't-want-to-impress, yet ever the lady in all ways and time of the day. She is the vinegar in the duo but underneath it all, is a heart of gold. Then there's Lurleen, her opposite to balance things out. She talks a fair game, and plays by the rules, but get her riled up or attack those she loves and watch out buddy...she can strike like a viper in a basket. As infuriating as they both could be, they were equally charming and anyone would be better for having known them. Then we have the Wilkes siblings, Remmy and Katie. The latter is a gem and stout protector of her brother, the former is well intended but a pushover when it comes to the needs of his patients...and someone that has caught his heart. Yes, I said his heart because he's not one to flirt with fate, but he will fight for it in the most genteel way possible...oh the words that spill from his mouth! We're not talking love sonnets but things much more touching and revealing. It's funny how that can catch AND hold a girl's attention more so than a flashy car or a physique of stone (not that he doesn't have both in his own right...). Shame and brimstone on you Brooks, no forgiveness EV-ER shall be thrown your way. Sissy, I just...in the end, I felt for you, a little, teeny tiny bit, but for most the story I was so inflamed by your actions I just couldn't begin to forgive and forget. Yes, the character parade could go on and on and on with additions in the friendly/lovable category (including a character with the author's last name...sneaky sneaky!) as well as those that should be left behind, but I'll stop now for fear of writing my own story about the story....
One more point I feel I have to expand on is the emotional and familial aspect of it all. Now, I'm an only child, no siblings or extended family to speak, so the sisterhood related here is foreign to me in the most basic of ways, but I'll be darned if I didn't shed tears, share smiles, and feel the love and forgiveness given time and again between these pages. During Miss Emily and Miss Lurleen's trip to the ocean (unexpected tear burst), when Nettie and Sissy happen upon Lurleen on the bench by the gardenias (bawling like a baby), when Lurleen or Emily give a piece of their mind to someone rather deserving (smiles all around!), and even in those scenes without any narration at all, the emotions attached to the events were stroking my heart. A magical feat? Not exactly but definitely a sign of great writing talent.
So, to conclude, the truth of the matter is this. Sometimes you get a book and its characters, while other times, the book and characters get you. The latter is certainly the case here for me despite not having any connections to the characters in my personal life, the ties made through sharing their story (fictional or not) have us bound for a lifetime. There's love and heartache, life and death, family by blood and family by choice, all mixed together with enough salty sweetness to do the Eldridge sisters (plus Nettie!) proud. Recommended read for Southern Women's Fiction fans in their teens and beyond.
About the author....
Kim Boykin was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity.
Almost everything she learned about writing, she learned from her grandpa, an oral storyteller, who was a master teacher of pacing and sensory detail. He held court under an old mimosa tree on the family farm, and people used to come from all around to hear him tell stories about growing up in rural Georgia and share his unique take on the world.
As a stay-at-home mom, Kim started writing, grabbing snip-its of time in the car rider line or on the bleachers at swim practice. After her kids left the nest, she started submitting her work, sold her first novel at 53, and has been writing like crazy ever since.
Thanks to the lessons she learned under that mimosa tree, her books are well reviewed and, according to RT Book Reviews, feel like they’re being told across a kitchen table. She is the author of A Peach of a Pair, Palmetto Moon and The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley/NAL/Penguin; Flirting with Forever, She’s the One, Just in Time for Christmas, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
Special thanks to Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book for the chance to bring this tour to you and a hug to the author for the copy for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, the publisher, or those promotions on the horizon, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is available now via Berkley Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf or virtual retailer of your choosing.
Until next time...happy reading!