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Friday, June 15, 2018

Newest Karen White Novel As Atmospheric and Warm-Hearted as the Rest

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

After being humiliated as an 18-year-old, Larkin Lanier fled her Lowcountry home for New York City, vowing never to look back.  Although the women who raised her have kept in touch, their pleas for her return have fallen on deaf ears.  When Larkin receives news that her mother—a free-spirited painter—has gone missing, however, she knows it's time to go back to Georgetown, South Carolina.  At 27, Larkin is a slim, successful businesswoman, not the awkward, overlooked girl she once was, but she's still leery about returning.  She'll stay in the South only long enough to do what needs to be done, then return as soon as possible to her lonely life in the Big Apple.

When Ivy Lanier is found in the ruins of her family's burned-out plantation home, injured and unconscious, Larkin fears the worst for her mother.  As she lingers in the hospital, unresponsive, Larkin can't help but wonder what the older woman was doing at Carrowmore.  Ivy seemed to have been looking for something, but what could she possibly need from the crumbling shell of her former home?  When Larkin questions Ceecee—the 77-year-old woman who raised both Ivy and Larkin—the old lady acts cagey and suspicious.  What is Ceecee keeping from her?  Ivy was trying to tell Larkin something before her accident, something about the past.  Only Ceecee and Bitty, her grandmother's childhood friends, know the truth and it just might be the truth that finally sets Ivy free.  Desperate to wake her mother up, Larkin will stop at nothing until she uncovers the truth about a trio of friends and the secrets that have bound them together for the last fifty years.

I'm always up for a Southern family secrets novel and no one defines the genre quite like Karen White.  Although I like some of her books more than others, I appreciate her atmospheric, warm-hearted stories, and always look forward to a new one.  Dreams of Falling takes place in a typical Lowcountry setting populated by quirky folk who value family, friendship, and foiling nosy attempts to sniff out the skeletons in their closets.  The tale oscillates between narrators and time periods, which makes both the plot and the cast a bit confusing at times.  While I loved Ceecee, Bitty, and some of the other fringe characters, the three women at the novel's core didn't appeal to me at all.  The Darlingtons (Margaret, Ivy, and Larkin) are a selfish, fickle, unlikable lot, which made it tough for me to care what happened to them.  Despite my reservations, though, I found Dreams of Falling compelling and, overall, enjoyable.  It's not my favorite of White's many novels, but it definitely kept me reading.

(Readalikes:  other novels by Karen White as well as those by Dorothea Benton Frank, Joshilyn Jackson, and Anne Rivers Siddons)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for violence, innuendo, and (non-graphic) references to sex and prostitution

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of Dreams of Falling from the generous folks at Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you!
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