Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Kline's first novel is a captivating read. When a grandfather she never knew bequeaths her a house and 60 acres of land in Sweetwater, Tenn., a restless young artist leaves New York to recover her past and rethink her future. Cassie Simon's mother Ellen died when Cassie was only three; raised in Boston by her grieving father, she never knew her maternal relatives. Unprepared for the thick veil of mystery that surrounds them, Cassie is especially bewildered by her brusque grandmother, whom rumor credits with hiding a terrible secret about Ellen's death. In alternating sections told from their respective points of view, Cassie and her grandmother fight their separate battles to cope with the truth about the tragedy. Kline perfectly renders each woman's voice: Cassie's, probing and often uncertain, propels the narrative and creates an appropriate level of psychological suspense; the grandmother's quavers with the weight of memory as Cassie's search forces her beyond family myth to a painful and perhaps dangerous truth. The result is a powerful, immensely readable tale of loyalty and betrayal, family and memory, made fresh by Kline's often beautiful and always lucid prose. Literary Guild alternate; Reader's Digest Condensed Book. ( June ) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
An ambitious but somewhat undercooked southern gothic psychological thriller from first-time author Kline. Cassie Simon is 27, a sculptor living in N.Y.C., working in an art gallery, having an affair with the gallery's owner, a womanizer, when her maternal grandfather dies and inexplicably leaves the Clyde family house and land in Sweet Water, Tennessee, to her. Although Cassie hasn't seen any of the Clydes since she was three--when her mother, Ellen, was killed in a car accident caused by the grandfather, who was drunk behind the wheel--Cassie decides to move down to Sweet Water and get to know her mother's family while she pursues her art. However, the family--Ellen's mother, called Clyde, and a sister named Elaine and a brother Horace--isn't especially glad to see Cassie; they think she's here to resurrect the scandals surrounding her mother's death and the earlier mysterious drowning of a townswoman named Bryce Davies. Naturally, Cassie becomes curious--just as her grandfather hoped she would when he left her the house, which she searches from attic to basement, discovering letters filled with family secrets. In alternating first-person narratives, she and grandmother Clyde, at first archenemies, eventually both come to terms with the fact Cassie's grandfather was not only a drunk but also a womanizer; that Clyde, who for a quarter-century has been suspected of murdering her husband's mistress Bryce, can now be forgiven for having simply rejoiced when Bryce died accidentally; and that Cassie's grandfather, although weak, did not murder his own daughter in revenge for the death of his mistress. Trouble is, the reader already knows all of this long before it's revealed, often awkwardly, in stormy late-night scenes. Meanwhile, Cassie has fallen for her aunt Elaine's adopted son Troy, who in the end takes her away from it all, to live with him in Atlanta. Deus ex machina. Unfortunately, the plot often creaks.
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