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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Warm-Hearted White Novel Familiar Fare—With a Twist

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Two years ago, Merritt Heyward's firefighter husband died while on the job.  His sudden death left her fighting a slew of emotions, among them sadness, regret, guilt, and relief.  When the 33-year-old widow receives shocking news from Cal's family lawyer, she's hit with another one: confusion.  Although they were married for seven years, Cal never spoke of his past.  Not a word.  Merritt's stunned to find out that he hailed from a small Lowcountry town, where his ancestral home—built in 1791—still stands.  Not only that, but upon the recent death of Cal's grandmother, the historic structure now belongs to Merritt.  

Needing a change of scenery, Merritt packs up her life in Maine and heads to tiny Beaufort, South Carolina, with the intention of making her home there.  It matters little to her that her inheritance is a crumbling mansion, barely habitable and stuffed with the possessions of an elderly recluse, who perished on the premises.  Merritt's intrigued by the place, especially knowing that the secrets to her husband's mysterious past cower somewhere in the dusty corners of his childhood home.  Desperate to understand the man she married but hardly knew, Merritt vows to uncover the truths he kept hidden deep within the confines of his broken, embittered heart.  

Although Merritt desires only to be left alone, she soon realizes that's impossible in a tiny Southern town like Beaufort.  First, there's Gibbes.  Handsome and kind, Cal's younger brother is nothing like her deceased husband.  In spite of herself, Merritt finds herself drawn to the sensitive pediatrician.  Then, there's Loralee Connors, who shows up out of nowhere with every intention of staying.  Merritt can't stand to be around her chirpy 36-year-old stepmother for an hour, let alone months on end.  She doesn't care how down-and-out Loralee must be, there's no way Merritt's letting her stay.  If it weren't for Owen, Merritt's pitiful 10-year-old stepbrother, she would have kicked Loralee to the curb weeks ago ... 

Even with these newest complications, Merritt pushes forward with her investigation of the Heyward Family.  What she discovers is as enlightening as it is shocking and devastating.  As she fits together the pieces of her husband's dark history, she finds some surprising truths about herself as well.  With her own heart thawing, Merritt realizes that the hurts of the past don't have to dictate a painful future.  In fact, forgiveness may be the key to the kind of happiness she's only ever dreamed about having ... 

I've enjoyed a number of novels by Karen White.  They usually involve Southern settings, family secrets, and plots that flip flop between the past and the present—my favorite literary devices.  So, when the good folks at Berkley/NAL offered me a copy of White's 2015 release, The Sound of Glass, I enthusiastically accepted.  The story gave me everything I've come to expect from this author—an atmospheric setting; a compelling mystery; and an engaging, warm-hearted reading experience.  I didn't care as much for the characters in this one, however; they felt cliché.  Merritt especially annoyed me with her whiny selfishness.  Still, I enjoyed the book overall.  While similar to White's other unexpected-news-brings-woman-home-to-make-peace-with-her-family/past books, The Sound of Glass has an intriguing subplot that gives it a unique spin.  It's not my favorite of White's novels (that would be The Memory of Water), true, but it definitely kept me engaged.  In the end, it's an uplifting story about healing, surviving, and clinging to what matters most.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other novels by Karen White, including Falling Home; A Long Time Gone; The Beach Trees; The Memory of Water; and The Lost Hours)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for brief, mild language (no F-bombs) and violence

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Sound of Glass from the generous folks at Berkley/NAL (an imprint of Penguin).  Thank you!


  1. Hmmm, another cliche character book. At least you enjoyed the story.

    1. Right? I feel like I say this about every book. I guess it's cliche for me to talk about cliche characters, eh? LOL.


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