Patti is a contributor to the Southern Authors blog A Good Blog is Hard To Find.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

More Word Wondering -- "REVIEW"

Sometimes a simple word can change its meaning at different points in life.
For example: REVIEW.
Simple word. Until you're an author and it is a week until book release. Then this word suddenly morphs and becomes this monster with sharp teeth and an evil grin OR a gentle giant with kind words and sweet smile.
One word: Many meanings.

So here is an example of the kinder, gentler review.
I love it.

SECRETS SURFACE AS FAMILY RECONNECTS
Novel unfolds against romantic beach backdrop in Georgia. Sisters confront issues from the past.

By Don O'Briant
For the AJC
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Some families, in fiction and real life, seem to have trouble dealing with the past. Incidents as insignificant as an overcooked Thanksgiving turkey or a remark about a relative’s drinking habit can fester into a family feud that lingers for years until somebody either dies or apologizes.

The Sheffields in Atlanta writer Patti Callahan Henry’s sixth novel, “Driftwood Summer,” have problems with the past and present. In the past, a romantic rivalry between sisters Riley and Maisy resulted in Maisy leaving their small Georgia coastal town and moving to California to become an interior designer. A younger sister, Adalee, has left home for college, where she treats life like one big party.

Riley, who became a single mother after one impetuous act, has stayed to run the family’s Driftwood Cottage Bookstore with Kitsy, her widowed —- and controlling —- mother. Doubtful that she will ever find anyone as good as her lost true love, Riley instead seeks comfort in the pages of novels where everyone lives happily ever after.

Maisy has troubles of her own. Although she’s a successful designer, she seems to be attracted only to men who are married or otherwise unavailable. She has refused to return to her hometown for years, but now she has no choice. Her mother is celebrating her 70th birthday during a week of special events to mark the 200th anniversary of Driftwood Cottage and the 12th anniversary of the bookstore.

Like many independent bookstores, the Sheffields’ business is in financial trouble and Kitsy is hoping the celebration will raise enough money to keep Driftwood open. Before the festivities can begin, Kitsy is hospitalized after a fall and diagnosed with a serious illness. Riley is asked to summon her sisters to help with the celebration, but she is sworn to secrecy about her mother’s medical condition.

This begins a bittersweet tale of long-buried family secrets, misunderstood motives and the return of Mack Logan, the man who created the rift between Riley and Maisy during one pivotal evening. Mack, whose family previously owned Driftwood Cottage, had fished and sailed with Riley when they were teenagers. Mack and Riley were best friends until Maisy decided she wanted him.

“Since that night thirteen years ago, Riley had spoken to her sister only when necessary. The gulf in their relationship was easy to blame on Maisy —- after all, she’d been the one to leave Palmetto Beach and move to California, then refuse to come visit. But Riley understood that mere physical distance was not what kept them apart; their bitterness and anger did.”

The author skillfully weaves the stories of the sisters against a romantic backdrop of a beach town and the kind of bookstore any reader would appreciate. In addition to a cafe with fresh-baked muffins, the Driftwood Cottage Bookstore is the social center of the community with comfortable chairs and a meeting place for the Beach Babes Book Club, the Blonde Book Club and the Page Turners Club.

As in “Between the Tides,” “When Light Breaks” and her other novels, the coastal setting is as much a character as the people. Her descriptive prose evokes a lush landscape of oaks draped in Spanish moss and the scent of the sea on soft breezes. Most of all, her keen insights into relationships and the healing power of storytelling questions the statement that Scarlett O’Hara’s father made when he insisted that land was the only thing that mattered.

In Patti Callahan Henry’s world, it’s family.

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