Thursday, March 21, 2013

gone south

by meg moseley — published may 7, 2013 — multnomah books

Having moved frequently within her native Michigan, Tish McComb is thrilled to move to Noble, Alabama, and buy a house built by her great-great-great-grandparents shortly after the Civil War. She hangs their ancient wedding portrait in the parlor where it once hung and dreams of finding a sense of home. But she soon learns her ancestors were carpetbaggers whose legendary misdeeds make the town hostile toward anyone named McComb. Tish isn't the only one who feels the sting of rejection, though. When an influential citizen disowns his prodigal daughter, Tish offers her the acceptance they've both been denied. But everything goes south when the wayward daughter doesn't straighten up. Tish can't decide if she should challenge her incorrigible houseguest by drawing a line in the sand, or write words in the sand and dare the prodigal's father to throw the first stone.

The thing that most surprised me about this book was how many levels and story lines there were. But they weren't difficult to follow. I really enjoyed learning about all the different characters. First, there's Tish, who moves to Noble. She takes in Mel, a young girl who is disowned from her family. She grew up in Noble, so she knows a lot about the town. Then there's Calv, the man Tish bought the house from, who feeds a dog named Daisy that always shows up on Tish's porch, who belongs to George, a guy who runs an antique shop with Calv. And George eventually hires Mel. Each character has his or her own backstory and plot line, but they also interact with one another superbly. George and Mel have such an interesting relationship, but Mel and Tish have such a different one. I truly feel like I got to know how each of their relationships with one another worked.

On top of the character interaction, the storyline crossovers and weaving worked so well. I was so impressed at how the stories drifted apart and then back together, all at once, and sporadically. Moseley expertly wove together all the layers to create a complex and compelling novel. I was never lost or confused about who was where during a particular scene or what was going on. 

There was also an air of mystery to it regarding the past McCombs. We don't really find out a lot about them until midway through the book, and even then, their history is still a little cloudy. But as the story gets deeper and Tish gets deeper into Noble, we slowly discover more. Secrets and facts were revealed precisely when they needed to be, and it was suspenseful, but not keeping us in the dark so much to be irritating. The perfect amount of intrigue.

I also loved Calv's character, even though he was kind of a side player. I feel like he was so human, quick to judge, changing his mind and perception, and always giving treats to Daisy. These characters were just so real.

I have to say, I had no idea this book would be so complex or interesting on first glance. But by chapter 5, I was hooked, and couldn't put it down.

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