Review: The Secret to Southern Charm by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Can’t beat a story about three sisters, all together for the summer with their families – including mother and grandmother. One of my own favorite memories is of visiting my childhood home at the same time my brother and sister were there. We enjoyed that at-home feeling. Not that we didn’t have our own homes, but there was something comforting about being in the backyard while Dad grilled dinner, mom brought out the sides, and we all talked. Easy, cozy, safe.

That’s the mood Harvey sets forth in Southern Charm. The three sisters get along, annoy but love each other, and take care of each other’s families. My favorite part was when Sloane’s husband wasn’t sure they should take Caroline’s offer to stay in her house for a while. Sloane said that what was Caroline’s was hers, because she, Caroline and Emerson were all the same one person.

Despite the ups and downs of life, the heartbreak and the grief, that’s how I feel … my siblings and I will always be the same person. We are rooted in our parents love, as are these three Southern sisters.

The book is a little slow (boring? overly descriptive) in some places, and could use some tightening up. There are also a few plot lines that I take moral issues with. Besides that, I enjoyed it, and it brought back some nice memories for me.

-calliope

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Review: 51 Weeks by Julia Meyerscough

As I settle in to my mid forties, I often think I should do some kind of challenge before I turn 50. I have one friend who collected library cards from the 50 United States. I know women who took all-girls vacations to tropical locales. And then there’s this book’s protagonist, who decided to do a different challenge each week for the year before she turned 50. The premise fascinated me and had my brain storming ideas from the beginning.

However.

Some of these challenges just left a bad taste in my mouth. I thought they’d be charming challenges, but they were sometimes crass, sometimes crossing moral boundaries, and sometimes just silly. Now, I realize Amy’s friends came up with the list, but even if a good friend of mine challenged me to cross a line that I don’t think a married woman should cross, well, I wouldn’t cross it. Amy didn’t have such scruples. (Maybe I’m a prude, I’ll admit it.)

Playing in the background throughout the novel is the soundtrack to a marriage on the rocks. It was just too much negativity for me when I instead expected a happy go lucky, positive tale of self-discovery.

If you don’t need all the loose ends tied up, and if you’re a little mellower than I am when it comes to following the rules, you’ll likely appreciate Amy’s fun journey, supported by her awesome friends.

-calliope

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