Book 1, Peachtree Bluff Series, by Kristy Woodson Harvey, Gallery Books, April 2017.
* An e-galley was provided by Gallery Books and Edelweiss for an honest review.
Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE, by Kristy Woodson Harvey, is a warm enjoyable beach read that captures the sometimes uncomfortable, sometimes awesome interactions of a family full of women. The story is full of regrets, long-held secrets, questions of trust, and feelings of abandonment. Told in alternating points of view between 58-year-old mom, Ansley, and the oldest of her three girls, 34-year-old Caroline, the book begins as Caroline and her sisters, Sloane and Emerson, descend upon their mother's Southern beach home in Peachtree Bluff.
Mother Ansley is the widow of Carter, who died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center collapse. She's lived in Peachtree Bluff full time since 2001 and has come into her own as an interior designer. Her life suddenly changes when, all at once, her children and grandchildren fill her once quiet house. At the same time her first love, Jack, returns to town and tries to rekindle their romance. Ansley tries to keep her relationship with Jack from her girls, as she's not really sure how or whether to combine the two.
Caroline lives in New York City, is six months pregnant with her second child, and enjoys her life as a high-society wife. When her husband confesses he's fallen in love with a 20-year-old supermodel, she's devastated. Heartbroken over his infidelity and needing to escape from her gossiping so-called friends, she packs bags for herself and her nine-year-old daughter and heads to the last place she's ever wanted to go back to, hick town extraordinaire, Peachtree Bluff.
Sloane is the 32-year-old middle sister and married to her high-school love, Adam, who once again is deployed overseas. She misses Adam and yearns for the support of her family. So she loads up her two-year-old and 18-month-old sons and drives home to stay with her mom and reconnect with her sisters.
Emerson, the 28-year-old baby of the three girls, is a struggling actress who's gradually getting better jobs. Her current gig is a starring role that could really boost her career, and it's being shot in nearby Atlanta. So she figures she'll just stay at her mom's while filming and soak up some quality time with her family.
The story's very well written and is not repetitive, thanks to a varied vocabulary.
Each of the sisters have different quirks and personalities.
The book contains a good amount of humor with a scattering of poignant events.
All the main characters are interesting, making it easy to become invested in what happens to them.
Too much of the story occurs in Ansley's and Caroline's heads. I prefer more dialogue and action to tell a story.
The voices of Ansley and Caroline were almost identical. I like stories where you can tell, just by reading a portion of dialogue, who is speaking.
SLIGHTLY SOUTH OF SIMPLE is an excellent start to the new Peachtree Bluff series. It's a delightful beach read full of interesting characters and addresses familiar family issues. I would recommend it for everyone who likes Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe, but particularly for anyone who grew up in the South and/or with sisters.
If You Like This, You Might Like: LIES AND OTHER ACTS OF LOVE by Kristy Woodson Harvey, HERE'S TO US by Elin Hilderbrand, A LOW COUNTRY WEDDING by Mary Alice Monroe, SECRETS IN SUMMER by Nancy Thayer, SALTY KEY INN SERIES by Judith Keim, TEN BEACH ROAD NOVELS by Wendy Wax
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