Friday, October 30, 2009

Karen White Paints Pawleys Island with Both Darkness & Light

How I have missed Karen White all these years I have no idea. I've read almost every female author to come out of the south in the past decade (and a few males thrown in for good measure). I've read every book Dorothea Benton Frank has written, all Mary Kay Andrews's novels and her pseudonym mystery series, Kaye Gibbons's complete works, everything Cassandra King has written. Most of Lee Smith. All of Anne Rivers Siddons. I own most of Ellen Gilchrist, save a book or two. Michael Lee West... Well, you get the idea.

So again, I'm not really sure how Karen White escaped my attention or fell under the proverbial radar. But she did. Well, no more. I would like to kick myself now, because the only reason I picked up one of her novels (at a great used bookstore in Crossville, Tennessee, called the Book Cellar) is that she was speaking at the Southern Festival of Books. I missed her session and never read the novel, The Color of Light, until this week.

To be perfectly honest, I think the book jacket threw me off a bit. I'll give you a sampling of it so maybe you'll understand why I wasn't just chomping at the bit to open it up:

At thirty-two, Jillian Parrish finally finds the courage to take charge of her life and discover what really lives in the dark spaces under her bed. Pregnant and recently divorced, she takes her seven-year-old daughter to seek refuge and solace on Pawleys Island, South Carolina -- Jillian's only source of happy childhood memories. Summers spent at her grandmother's beach house were Jillian's sanctuary from indifferent parents until her best friend, Lauren Mills, disappeared. . . . As ghosts of the past return to haunt them, and Jillian's daughter begins having eerie conversations with an imaginary friend named Lauren. . . .
A bit dramatic, isn't it? I'm not into overly-dramatic. I'm into good reading. And I wasn't sure I would get it out of a book about "uncover[ing] the truth. . . about the feelings. . . kept buried for sixteen years." Let's just say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The genre for The Color of Light is kind of hard to define. White combines elements of a southern gothic novel, chick lit, and mystery into one. There is a strong plot replete with twists and difficult challenges which the characters must face. And the characters themselves are unexpectedly likeable. The setting, of course, couldn't be better. Pawleys Island, with the beach and the southern tidbits, is nothing but interesting. There is also a strong supernatural element in the novel, as White creates a world where ghosts speak and intuition runs strong. The ending becomes a bit cliche, both in the love story portion of the plot and in the surprises that unfold. Overall, however, it is a deeply satisfying novel about a woman who finds exactly what she seeks -- answers to past mysteries and a new beginning.

You can catch White on her current book tour in and around the south (primarily Georgia) as she promotes her new book, The Girl on Legare Street, which is a sequel to the bestselling The House on Tradd Street.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails