Thursday, December 27, 2012

Summer in the South by: Cathy Holton

Title: Summer in the South Author: Cathy Holton Publsiher: Center Point Publishing Pages: 510 (large print edition)

I checked this book out from my local library after seeing it on  Library Thing.

From the cover:  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.  Her charming hosts offer Ava a chance to relax and write at their idyllic ancestral estate, Woodburn Hall.
But Ava soon learns that ancient feuds and modern rivalries lurk just beneath the estate's placid surface.  Fascinated by the family's impressive history- their imposing house filled with treasures and their mingling with literary icons Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Faulkner- Ava stumbles onto rumors about the darker side of the family's legacy and discovers a multitude of skeletons in their closets.  As Ava struggles to write the story of the Woodburns, she finds herself tangled in the tragic history of a mysterious Southern family whose secrets mirror her own.

Being a fan of southern fiction, I had to give this one a try.  I had a stack of books in my TBR pile, but this one caught and held my attention from the first page.  The author does a great job of capturing the uniqueness of a southern small town (waving at everyone you see, revealing one's life story in line at the grocer).  However, I never could find myself rooting for Ava.  She seemed nosy, blunt and cold to me.  Actually, I think this is the way southerners tend to view many non-southerners.  It just isn't the way we do things.  Therefore, I think the author does a great job in capturing the way non-southerners are viewed by others here (often unknowingly). 
The mystery itself is vaguely interesting, but I kept wondering why, exactly, Ava really cared?  In her relentless pursuit of finding the true killer of Charles Woodburn she questions other family members continuously. She also writes their family secrets down and intends to publish them.  (Can you see why I find her so unlikeable?)  I kept asking myself (over and over) why Ava even cared?  These people were essentially strangers to her.
 Another thing I found distracting was this quote:  "They'd spend the summer driving around town picking up girls in a 1967 Corvette they'd bought at an auction. Jake was the worst. You didn't dare get into the back with him unless you wanted to come out with bruises and whisker burns all over your face and other places too embarrassing to mention."  Think about it.  A 1967 Corvette has no back seat.
So was all the hanky panky taking place- in the trunk? A minor detail, indeed, but very distracting.
I'm not saying I didn't like the book. It was a pretty good mystery and I was surprised at the outcome.  However, I am not used to books where the main character is actually unlikable.  Again, this is an excellent portrayal of how non-southerners appear to southerners.  The author actually did an excellent job with this.  It was a quick read, and not a bad one.  At least it made me think.....

Read this book if....
*you love southern fiction
*you love a good mystery
*you have no knowledge of classic cars (smile)

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