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I love the premise of this book, but sadly it did not deliver on its promise of mystery, intrigue, romance and self-discovery. I got a little over halfway through the book and still no semblance of a plot. At some point our leading lady, Ava, stumbles upon some questions about a mysterious death, but just when I thought she'd start strapping on her gumshoes, the story would ramble back into another pointless scene straight out of Southern Living magazine. To put it plainly, this book is one hot Southern mess. However, I should give the author some credit for her lyrical descriptions of the sleepy Tennessee full of big-haired women who fully embrace the patriarchy.
Let's talk about that for a moment. After attempting to get through this book, I realized that I'm not a fan of traditional Southern culture, and it's hard to believe that a "Yankee woman" from the city would find a town full of passive-aggressive, two-faced, gossipy women so appealing? I was especially put off toward the mid-point in the story when she chatted up an aristocratic old gent at a waspy garden party who was beaming with pride at his happy little housewife who spends her days at the spa and social engagements. My eyes just about rolled out of my head when he stated, "In my next life, I want to be a Woodburn housewife."
Since all the women in this book are apparently still living in the 1950s, the pinnacle of happiness is to live a life of comfort and ease at the expense of their independence and...oh I don't know...self-respect?
How Ava was allured by the kitschy townsfolk and captivated by their duplicitous charms, I will never know. I'm also wondering how she managed to lose a little weight while freeloading for an entire summer while sipping sugary tea all day and dining on comfort food. Makes me wonder what the hell she must've been eating in the big city.
To be honest, I had a hard time connecting with Ava. What did all the hot eligible bachelors see in her? She has the personality of a sea slug and doesn't like cats for Pete's sakes! And if that's not reason enough to fling the book against the wall, she's a busybody to boot. It's one thing to get involved in a mystery if you have something to gain--or to lose for that matter. But what's her motive for digging into other people's dirty laundry and ultimately betraying the women who gave her free room and board for an entire summer? So not cool.
But then again, I might be a little biased because --HELLO!-- she doesn't like cats. If you're looking for a good Southern mystery, give this one a pass and pick up a book by Carolyn Haines.
This was an intriguing read with mystery and surprises. A very interesting "who done it".