Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer in the South - Review

Title:  Summer in the South
Author: Cathy Holton
Publisher:  Ballantine Books

Goodreads Summary: 

After a personal tragedy, Chicago writer Ava Dabrowski quits her job to spend the summer in Woodburn, Tennessee, at the invitation of her old college friend Will Fraser and his two great-aunts, Josephine and Fanny Woodburn. Her charming hosts offer Ava a chance to relax at their idyllic ancestral estate, Woodburn Hall, while working on her first novel. 
But Woodburn is anything but quiet: Ancient feuds lurk just beneath its placid surface, and modern-day rivalries emerge as Ava finds herself caught between the competing attentions of Will and his black-sheep cousin Jake. Fascinated by the family’s impressive history—their imposing house filled with treasures, and their mingling with literary lions Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner—Ava stumbles onto rumors about the darker side of the Woodburns’ legacy. Putting aside her planned novel, she turns her creative attentions to the eccentric and tragic clan, a family with more skeletons (and ghosts) in their closets than anyone could possibly imagine. As Ava struggles to write the true story of the Woodburns, she finds herself tangled in the tragic history of a mysterious Southern family whose secrets mirror her own.

My thoughts:

This was a smorgasbord of delights!  A book with back story set in the 20s, a rambling old mansion in the south, ghosts, intrigue, mystery, and the main character was originally from my very own part of Michigan! It was neat to read a book that mentioned places I know and have been to, like Boblo Island.  The story slowly bubbled along, like a slow southern afternoon, and I loved all the characters - except Ava, who was the main character. She kind of bothered me, she seemed rather passionless and without emotion- and the ones she did display were selfish and manipulative.  I adored Will, Jake, Maitland, Fanny and Josephine however, especially Fanny.  The central mystery is who killed Charlie, Fanny's husband - and was he really murdered? (Warning: Bit of a spoiler coming up) The family is hush-hush about anything Charlie related, and Ava seems dead set on dragging the skeletons of this family out of the closet, regardless of the fact that she is living in their house and accepting their hospitality for free.  Rude Ava, rude.  When I finally read who the killer was, I really could understand that character's motivation.  It would not have been my reaction, murder, but I would have been filled with rage too at this final straw, the one that finally drove this character to the breaking point.

Aside from despising Ava, I loved this book.  It was a perfect read for a humid, lazy summer day. It makes me want to institute my own Toddy Time at my house!

1 comment:

  1. Your description reminds me a little of The House on Tradd Street by Karen White. Have you read those? The first one was pretty good and I'll get to the second one some day! That cover picture just screams summer in the south, doesn't it?


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