Monday, April 17, 2017

Flight Patterns - Reprint by Karen White

Flight Patterns. Karen White. Berkley Reprint. March 2017. 432 pp.  ISBN#: 9780451470923. 

Georgia Chambers has found pleasure in developing her antiques business, keeping busy in order to keep some very bad memories out of the forefront of her consciousness.  That’s all about to change as James Graf hires her to find a certain tea cup painted with bees to complete a set missing this piece.  Although Georgia is an expert on Limoges china, she also is quite knowledgeable about other fine china, particularly those unique handcrafted types that are extremely valuable.  The piece James describes to her brings back such a powerful memory that she pales and feels like she’s suffocating.  For she knows she must now return to her hometown in Florida to seek this china teacup, and she’s coerced into allowing James to accompany her. 

The time spent in Apalachicola, Florida will be life-changing for the sisters, Georgia and Maisy, their grandmother Birdie, Maisy’s daughter Becky, Grandpa, James and his sister Caroline and other characters from Europe who are part of this intriguing family history.  The story is complex and intense but evolves to the point where the family secrets of each character are revealed, real and imagined wrongdoings are faced and somewhat and then completely forgiven, silence and oblivion are removed once truth is embraced, the finding of journals as well as post cards and honey forces questions to be answered and so much more that is perfectly woven together at just the right pace. 

Every chapter begins with a quote about the life of bees, specifically describing how they interact and their functions at different times of their lives.  These additional lines literally and figuratively foreshadow what follows in each chapter – a charming extra touch!

Karen White is a highly skilled writer whose fiction just keeps getting better and better! If this is your first novel by her, you’re in for a treat!  You’ll probably want to read her other works as well.  For the threads of secrets and memories keep the characters from being stereotypical, the plot is both simple and complex, and the tension is relieved by warm and tender moments in all the right places. 

Wonderful, light (somewhat) fiction that this reviewer highly recommends as a great read at any time of year!  Thanks to the publisher, Berkely, who provided this novel in return for an honest review!

The Night The Lights Went Out by Karen White

The Night The Lights Went Out.  Karen White. Penguin Publishing Group. April 2017. 416 pp. ISBN #: 9780451488381.

Merilee Talbot Dunlap and her two children are moving to Sweet Apple, Georgia not far from Atlanta.  Merilee is recently divorced and not sure where she wants to settle.  So, she rents a small house behind the home of her landlady, Sugar.  It’s a time of adjustment for all.  Sugar appears to be a tough elderly lady but as the story progresses we find that she has a heart of gold, submerged beneath sarcastic retorts and much grumbling.  For one thing, she’s rough on Merilee’s lack of Southern cooking skills, including how to make real “sweet tea” and make vegetables palatable for children.  Merilee has done fine with her son and daughter and they like Sugar who makes amazing cookies and has a collection of bird books that are an instant hit. 

Now comes the interesting part as soon after Merilee and her children settle into a job and school, respectively, it seems there’s an Internet blogger who knows all about Merilee’s divorce.  That’s a very different blogger from the other blog that points out the humorous side of “Southern” living, and funny it is!

Other characters include a handyman friend of Sugar who volunteers to do all kinds of renovations and house fixing for Merilee and more if she’s willing.  Then there’s Heather, a socialite who controls the charity benefits and school events and artfully takes over every mother’s life, including Merilee.  There’s also Heather’s husband who seems like a regular guy living a very unhappy existence.

No, this isn’t just a snarky Southern satire, although it certainly seems so!  The story progresses as Sugar and Merilee get closer and share the tragedies of their lives.  Just as the bond grows into a beautiful friendship, chaos looms large!  The very end of the novel jumps into a murder, an attempted murder and a mystery revealed that one could never have imagined when first starting this story!

Karen White continues to defy attempts to stereotype her writing.  That’s the beauty of her skills.  Something to appeal to mystery, romance, comedy, and adventure fill each of her novels, something to draw old and new readers alike for a pleasurable experience.