Tag Archives: Widows

Elizabeth Flock. What Happened to My Sister. New York: Ballentine Books, 2012.

Carrie Parker, age nine, and her mother Libby are leaving Hendersonville, North Carolina. Before they drive away, Libby makes her daughter promise never to talk about anything that happened there, and to remember that her sister, Emma, was just an imaginary friend she made up. But Carrie knows better– Emma was real, until something bad happened.

After moving down into the foothills, Carrie and her mother eke out a miserable existence at a motel in the fictional Hartsville, where Libby is often too intoxicated or too busy with her boyfriends to even feed her daughter. The little girl lives on paper and stolen food, until entirely by accident, she meets the Chaplin family. Ruth, Honor, and Cricket Chaplin are three generations living under the same roof. Living in a comfortable house filled with memorabilia dedicated to their famous relative, Charlie, the Chaplin women nevertheless have their own struggles. Cricket’s sister, Caroline, passed away only a short while ago from cancer, and it has torn her parents apart. Honor, Cricket’s mother, thinks that she’s hallucinating that day in the Wendy’s when she sees the little girl stealing from the salad bar– she’s the spitting image of her Caroline. When she discover’s Carrie’s name, she knows that she has to keep this unloved, sad little girl in her life. This conviction will change her and her family’s life, and will help Carrie discover what actually happened to the sister she’s sure she didn’t imagine.

A simultaneously heartbreaking and uplifting story about family, blood ties, and what’s most important in life, Elizabeth Flock has written a beautiful story that gets at the heart of child abuse. Told from the dual perspectives of Honor Chaplin and Carrie Parker, it is an intricately woven tale that both surprises and satisfies.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Buncombe, Flock, Elizabeth, Henderson, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Suspense/Thriller

Maurice Stanley. Midwinter: A Novel of the Frankie Silver Murder. Wilmington, NC: Whittler’s Bench Press, 2007.

History tells us that Frances “Frankie” Silver of Morganton, North Carolina, murdered her husband Charlie during a fight in late December of 1831. According to Frankie, Charlie Silver had been loading his musket in a jealous rage at the time in order to kill her.  Perhaps it is the whim of fate, and the expediency of axes over that of early 19th century firearms, that Frankie lived and Charlie died. Although the murderess attempted to conceal her actions, it’s said that she regretted his death bitterly. Eventually, however, Charlie’s family found her out, and Frankie was executed by hanging in the summer of 1833.

Maurice Stanley’s account of this infamous tale, long part of North Carolina mountain lore, is part historical fact, part fictional characterization, and part ghost story. He takes the perspective of various persons reputedly involved in the affair, including that of Frankie and Charlie’s families, the ill-fated couple themselves, and local law enforcement. He renders an imaginative retelling of this well-known classic, and provides a comprehensive list of resources for anyone interested in the historical accounts. But one thing will never be settled by reading newspaper stories or first-hand reports: do the vengeful ghosts of Frankie and Charlie Silver still walk the earth to this day?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog. For more information on Frankie Silver and her story, come by the North Carolina Collection and discover our historical sources, including the official court record from the Morganton News-Herald.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Burke, Historical, Mountains, Stanley, Maurice, Suspense/Thriller

Marybeth Whalen. The Guest Book. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Macy Dillon and her family used to take a vacation to Sunset Beach, North Carolina every year. Her most treasured childhood memories are of walking the beach with her mother, brother, and especially her father. But Darren Dillion passed away when she was just sixteen, and Macy’s life has contained a gaping hole ever since. Macy is barely holding it together, working at the local grocery store, and suffering through her mother’s forced celebration of her father’s birthday each year. The only good thing that has happened since Macy’s father’s death is her now five-year-old daughter, Emma, even though Emma’s father walked out on them both shortly after she was born.

But this year at the birthday celebration they hold annually for her deceased father, Macy’s mom announces that they are once more taking a family vacation to Sunset Beach. Macy begins to hope. As a child, her father encouraged her natural artistic talent by asking her to draw a picture in the guest book at their beach house rental each year. Amazingly, another child, a young boy, would answer Macy’s drawings each year with a drawing of his own. The children traded drawings for ten years without meeting, but in what she knew would be her final drawing, Macy promised to come back and find him. Macy is determined that this trip to Sunset Beach will be the one in which she finds the boy. But when they arrive, no less than three men begin vying for Macy’s attention…and any of the three could be the artist. Will she ever find out his identity? And will her family ever find peace without her father?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Brunswick, Coast, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Whalen, Marybeth

William F. Kaiser. Bloodroot. Deep Gap, NC: Bloodroot Books, 2007.

It’s 1860, and Billy Jack Truehill thinks he’s a goner for sure. Bitten by a giant rattlesnake while hunting alone in the North Carolina mountains, the tough woodsman knows he’s likely to perish. But Providence must smile on Billy Jack, for instead of dying in the forest, he stumbles onto the Widow Johnson’s humble homestead.

Elvira May Johnson was gently raised in New York City, where she was married off to the affluent Methodist preacher, Reverend Hiram Johnson. At twenty years her senior, Reverend Johnson was not her ideal match, but Elvira May bowed to the wishes of her father and brothers. But a sudden, unexplained assignment to a parish in western North Carolina meant Elvira May was uprooted from all she knew and loved, and taken out of civilization into the mountain wilds. Yet, the twenty-four-year old Elvira proved stronger than anyone thought, learning herb-lore from local granny-women and how to care for her humble living space. When Hiram died, the self-sufficient Elvira was more than prepared to cope on her own. Or at least she thought she was, until the day Billy Jack falls over in her cornfield.

Elvira heals Billy Jack’s snakebite, and it doesn’t take long for them to begin courting. Unfortunately, the day they marry is just after the formation of the Confederacy, and it doesn’t take long for the simmering mountain communities to boil over. Now Elvira and Billy Jack must fight to defend their country, their neighbors, and their very lives. But can a young woman with strong ideas about abolition and a young man with a stubborn streak a mile wide survive in the wartime mountain wilds for five years? With bandits, soldiers, and feuding neighbors roaming the highlands, it will take a lot more providence to see them through.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Historical, Kaiser, William F., Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Kim Cash Tate. Hope Springs. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2012.

Hope Springs is a small, fictional town 40 minutes east of Raleigh, North Carolina. Geraldine “Grandma Geri” Sanders, the matriarch of the Sanders clan, holds family reunions here every summer and every Christmas, welcoming her far-flung chicks back to the nest where they grew up. Some, like her granddaughter Libby who lives in Raleigh, haven’t strayed so far. But her other adult grandchildren are so far away; some haven’t visited in years. Sisters Cyd and Stephanie grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where they spend most holidays with their husbands’ families. Janelle has refused to make the journey down from her home in Maryland ever since she lost her husband two years ago.

The Sanders aren’t the only family in Hope Springs hosting a reunion: the Dillons, their neighbors for many years, are all congregating after the death of their patriarch, Jerry Dillon, who also happened to be the local pastor. His son Todd and daughter-in-law Becca are also heavily involved in ministry, but have moved outside of Hope Springs. Now all the adults from both families have a chance to reconnect over shared happiness and sorrow, and each person must ponder what God truly wants for him or her in their hearts. When Grandma Geri contracts cancer, everyone pulls together, and what is meant to be a Christmas visit turns into a months-long extended stay.

While the novel is told through the eyes of Stephanie, Janelle, and Becca, we witness everyone’s journey together as a family in more ways than one. Will Stephanie be able to adjust to her family after so many years away? Will Janelle eventually overcome her husband’s death, and even find new love? Will Becca do what’s right for herself and her children? Most importantly, will everyone survive in a house full of young children and toddlers? Only God has the answers.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Tate, Kim Cash

Erin McCarthy. Flat-Out Sexy. New York: Berkley Sensation, 2008.

Tamara Briggs was widowed at thirty when her husband, NASCAR driver Pete Briggs, was killed during a race at Talladega.  In the two years since then, Tamara has concentrated on her career as a sociology professor and on providing nurture and normalcy for her two children.  Her only foray into the world of dating has been some decidedly lukewarm evenings with one of her colleagues.  When Tamara takes him to  a cocktail party fundraiser and her good friend Suzanne gives the sweater-clad professor a very critical once-over, Tamara knows that Suzanne speaks the truth–this man is not for her.  Distracted by this realization, Tamara bumps into a stranger, Elec Monroe. The attraction is instantaneous and mutual.

During their first night together (graphically described) Tamara remembers how exciting a man can be, but Elec is just the kind of man she promised herself she’d stay away from–a race car driver.   A driver’s life is too  nomadic and unpredictable–and full of temptations and danger.  Having lost her husband, the father of her children, Tamara can’t face that heartbreak again.  Plus, Elec Monroe has more than the average amount of baggage–his father and Tamara’s father-in-law, once good friends, are now bitter enemies; he is being pursued by a woman who just might be crazy;  and Elec’s career is about to take off–he may even be rookie of the year.

Like a race track designed by a joker, Tamara’s romance with Elec takes some unexpected turns.  Chicken pox, jury duty, unhappy in-laws, a wreck, and a false paternity claim all stand between Tamara and Elec and happily-ever-after, but readers will enjoy the ride.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, McCarthy, Erin, Mecklenburg, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Suzanne Adair. Camp Follower. [United States: CreateSpace], 2008.

At age seventeen in 1768, lowborn Helen Grey was sold in marriage to an old, corpulent merchant bound for the Americas. Her saving grace was her disgusting husband’s educated assistant, Jonathan Quill, who had to play Pygmalion to her Galatea in order to make Helen presentable for the aristocracy in the colonies. Now, twelve years later and nine years widowed, Helen is fighting to survive in wartime Wilmington, North Carolina. After her husband’s demise in a duel, his monetary estate mysteriously vanished, leaving Helen near penniless. She now ekes out a meager existence taking in embroidery work for wealthy ladies and writing a small society column in a Loyalist magazine.

Then Helen’s editor comes to her with a proposition: if she poses as the sister of a British officer in His Majesty’s Seventeenth Light Dragoons, Helen could get close to Britain’s hero of the hour, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, and write a hard-to-acquire feature. Colonel Tarleton doesn’t approve of journalists, so Helen’s mission would be completely covert. But there is more beneath the surface of this apparently simple mission than meets the eye, and soon Helen is up to her neck in danger, intrigue, colonial spy rings, and the attentions of three separate men, one of whom is supposed to be posing as her brother. Traveling through a wild back country overrun with rebels, it’s possible that Helen’s greatest danger lies in the men supposedly protecting her best interests. Set in both North and South Carolina and concluding with the tactically decisive Battle of Cowpens, this romantic historical thriller combines an exciting time in the history of the United States with lots of imagination.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Adair, Suzanne, Coast, Historical, New Hanover, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Diane Chamberlain. Keeper of the Light Trilogy.

Set in the fictional Outer Banks town of Kiss River, Diane Chamberlain’s trilogy explores love, loss, and the power our loved ones have over our hearts and mind, even after death. The trilogy centers on the four members of the O’Neill family: father Alec, mother Annie, and the children Clay and Lacey. Although Annie O’Neill is tragically murdered in the opening pages of Keeper of the Light, her presence remains a main character throughout the entire trilogy, inspiring and at times haunting those who survived her passing. Not least of these is her daugher, Lacey. Thirteen at the time of her mother’s violent death, we watch Lacey grow from a rebellious, grieving teenager into a thoughtful young artist who must eventually grapple with motherhood in her turn. Although the books are set around new characters who come into the O’Neills’ lives, the trilogy remains focused on this family, their struggles to overcome Annie’s death, and the compelling lighthouse on the fictional Kiss River.

Author Diane Chamberlain

 

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Filed under 1990-1999, 2000-2009, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, Dare, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Series

Diane Chamberlain. Keeper of the Light. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

In this first installment of a trilogy set in the fictional town of Kiss River on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Chamberlain introduces her readers to the O’Neill family. A talented artist, Annie Chase O’Neill is revered by the locals. Playfully known as Saint Anne, her light, energy, and caring for others has given unfathomable gifts to the community. Dr. Olivia Simon, new to the area, has never met the famed Saint Anne, and is shocked to realize that the woman’s heart she literally holds in her hand one fateful Christmas Eve at the Kiss River Emergency Room belongs to her. Shot directly through the heart, Olivia knows immediately that the only chance to save the woman’s life is to attempt surgery, even though her staff would feel more comfortable air-lifting Annie to a larger facility. In spite of all of Olivia’s best efforts, Annie dies on the table, leaving behind a grieving husband and children. But this is just the beginning.

Olivia’s journalist husband, Paul, has been obsessed with Annie ever since he and Olivia moved to Kiss River from Washington, DC. Olivia thinks that his fixation began with an interview he did with Annie for the local paper, but as this story unfolds through present revelations and past reflection, we find that Paul and Annie’s relationship went much deeper than Olivia knew. Olivia’s marriage in ruins, the situation is further complicated when Annie’s handsome widower, Alec O’Neill, comes looking for answers about that night in the ER. Soon a complicated love square forms between Olivia, Alec, Paul, and Annie’s shade. In the center of it all is the Kiss River Lighthouse: a symbol of all that Annie loved and was. The lighthouse is scheduled to be moved in order to make way for construction, and both Alec and Paul throw themselves into the committee dedicated to saving it. Meanwhile, Olivia slips further and further into Annie’s life, becoming obsessed with understanding what made this woman so special. As the three adults circle slowly around Annie’s memory, it becomes increasingly clear that Annie and Alec’s troubled 14-year-old daughter Lacey, the spitting image of her murdered mother, is the one they should be watching.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library’s catalog.

 

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Filed under 1990-1999, 1992, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, Dare, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

JT Kalnay. The Topsail Accord. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace, 2011.

Shannon has come to Topsail Beach on the Outer Banks of North Carolina to escape; surrounded with work and family, she feels stifled instead of loved and fulfilled. Yet, she is somehow also lonely. Convinced that no one will notice her at the “decrepit” age of forty, she is content to walk the beach in front of her rental cottage and reflect on her sad past. What Shannon doesn’t realize is that someone has noticed her. Joe jogs along Topsail Beach every morning, and has lately noticed the new renter out walking. He thinks she’s striking, but as a local, Joe is used to being treated as something subhuman by visitors. It’s not until fate intervenes and he literally crashes into her, spilling her coffee, that the two really meet.

Falling in love, or at first in lust, is inevitable, but Joe and Shannon are both damaged goods. Shannon is a divorced scientist, and thanks to rich natural gas deposits discovered on her property in Ohio, a billionaire. Joe is a widower after the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter and runs a coffee shop just off the beach. In the face of their feelings for one another and these obstacles, Shannon and Joe develop the Topsail Accord, agreeing to spend two months a year together on Topsail, one week in Costa Rica in July, and one week in October at a different lighthouse. But as much as they attempt to limit their time and feelings to something manageable, both must ultimately face love’s one constant: in order to love and be loved in return, you have to be willing to be vulnerable. Joe and Shannon’s relationship is initially satisfying for both, but after a few years each feels as though something is missing. When Shannon is struck with a terrifying disease, the lovers must admit what they truly mean to each other before it’s too late and tragedy strikes their lives again.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Kalnay, JT, Pender, Romance/Relationship