Tag Archives: Widows

Rose Senehi. Render unto the Valley. Chimney Rock, NC: K.I.M. Publishing, 2012.

Karen Godwell is a curator at one of the most prestigious institutions in the United States: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She has carefully hidden the North Carolina-born mountain girl she used to be behind a veneer of New York sophistication, but when her husband Joel dies, everything changes. Joel, with his writer’s soul, fell  in love with North Carolina as much as Karen tried to forget it, and he always urged her to return. When Karen gets wind that something has gone badly wrong with her family there soon after Joel’s death, it’s the impetus she needs to fulfill his wish. She and her young daughter Hali pack their things and move south, where Karen takes a job at the Folk Art Center just outside of Asheville.

But it was a famous Ashevillean who knew that you can’t go home again so easily, and trouble waits for Karen in spades. Karen fled the Old North State for a reason: her sociopathic brother. Abused and neglected by their alcoholic mother’s string of shady boyfriends, Karen and her siblings Travis and Amy had a hard life that improved only when mom left for good, leaving the children to be raised by her parents. Grandma Pearl and her farm saved Karen, but there was never any hope for Travis.

Outwardly handsome and charming, Travis takes delight in seemingly random acts of cruelty and violation. Finally he has gone too far, placing Grandma Pearl in a rest home and taking her ancestral farm for himself by force. Obsessed with becoming wealthy, only his sisters stand in the way of his selling everything that their family has held dear for generations. In order to save her family’s, and daughter’s, future, Karen must finally face her childhood, with all its traumatic secrets.

The third of Senehi’s stand-alone novels set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Render Unto the Valley is an absorbing tale of homecoming, family, and the courage it takes to face the past. Art, environmental protection, and the preservation of personal and local history are all themes that make this an enriching and entertaining read.

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

 

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Buncombe, Mountains, Romance/Relationship, Senehi, Rose, Suspense/Thriller

Joan Medlicott. The Spirit of Covington. New York: Atria Books, 2003.

The Ladies of Covington that you know and love are back in this, the fourth book of Joan Medlicott’s popular series. Tired of watching their lives waste away at a dismal Pennsylvania boarding house for widows, 60-something Hannah, Amelia, and Grace threw their lots together when Amelia unexpectedly inherited a farmhouse in the little town of Covington. Often compared to Jan Karon’s Mitford, Covington is a small, North Carolina mountain town near Asheville.

In this installment of their adventures, the unthinkable happens: a careless forest fire burns the Ladies’ precious renovated farmhouse to the ground. Amelia, for all her complaining about the opossums in the walls and the creaky floorboards, is the most devastated. With the loss of the farmhouse, all the other losses in her life (the deaths of her husband and young daughter in particular) rise up and threaten to send her into a deep depression. Hannah and Grace are also saddened by the loss of their possessions and the house, but they are initially willing to rebuild in an affordable, modern style. But Amelia’s pain causes them to reconsider, and soon the Ladies are having an exact replica of the old building constructed. All seems well, but building a house takes a long time, and each woman will face different challenges that will threaten her former lifestyle: insistent gentleman friends proposing, abused children who need a guardian, and the problems visited on them by their own blood relatives all present Hannah, Amelia, and Grace with compelling reasons to move on with the rest of their lives. Will they decide to stay in Covington, the town each has come to know and love, after all? And will they remain, together, the Ladies?

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

 

 

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2003, Medlicott, Joan, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places

A. L. Provost. The Trust of Old Men: The Coastal Plain Conspiracy. New York: Xlibris, 2010.

This complicated mystery, set in North Carolina during the Roaring Twenties, begins simply. UNC Hill freshman Alan Barksdale has labored diligently all first semester, with the dream of one day becoming a banker like his esteemed father, Marvin Barksdale. Mr. Barksdale is currently both the trust officer and manager of the enormously wealthy Commerce Bank in Raleigh due to the terrible death of the previous manager. Impatient to be reunited with his family for the winter holidays, young Barksdale hops in his brand-new, 1920 four-door Ford the minute classes end on the evening of December 20th. The snow falls thick and fast, and Alan tragically fails to see the young woman waving her hands in the middle of the road until it is too late. At least that’s what the Good Samaritan who stops to help tells the distraught young man.

Speaking of tragedy, seventeen wealthy, elderly men and women have passed away during 1920 on the Coastal Plain. But these deaths are no mystery: the Lenoir County Medical Examiner has carefully determined that each death was simply the result of age. Heart attacks, a misstep on the stairs, and falling overboard during fishing expeditions are only to be expected when men and women pass their seventies! Unfortunately for the departed, it’s possible that their ends were hastened by a lack of living kin on whom to spend their time and considerable fortunes–kin who might have prevented these accidents.

At first glance, no honest citizen would ever think that these deaths and Alan’s fatal car crash were related. But Norman Bates, a hotshot young reporter from Kinston, smells a rat. Now he’s on the tail of the biggest heist in North Carolina…maybe even America. But will he survive long enough to discover the truth?

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

 

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Historical, Lenoir, Mystery, Provost, A. L., Suspense/Thriller, Wake

Ann Hite. Ghost on Black Mountain. New York: Gallery Books, 2011.

Nellie Clay falls hard for winter-eyed, curly-haired Hobbs Pritchard. In no time at all they are married, paying no heed to Nellie’s mama, who warns that she sees death in her tea leaves. It’s 1939, and despite the Depression that the country is in,  it’s the modern world. Who believes in ghosts and hoodoo? Hobbs brings Nellie home to Black Mountain, a very different world than the one Nellie grew up in near Asheville. For a time, she’s happy, despite their neighbors’ coldness and the strange rumors she keeps hearing regarding her husband. But slowly she discovers that Hobbs Pritchard isn’t the man she thought he was, and she begins to dread hearing his tires on the gravel outside.

And she begins seeing people. There’s an old woman in the house with steel gray hair, and a small man with round glasses who walks the Pritchard land. Only Shelly, the Pritchards’s sometime maid, sees them too. Nellie knows that she has to get off Black Mountain, but Hobbs is squarely in her way. One dark night everything falls apart, and Nellie does leave Black Mountain for good…or so she thinks.

Told through the eyes of five women touched by the murderous cruelty of Hobbs Pritchard, Ghost on Black Mountain is set against the rich beauty of the Appalachians. Linked by blood, common experience, and the ability to see “haints,” each woman nonetheless has a unique voice that engages the reader with its compelling tale.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Buncombe, Hite, Ann, Mountains

Nancy Gotter Gates. Life Studies. Detroit: Five Star, 2011.

Liz Raynor, widowed at 55, is struggling to find any joy in her life in Greensboro, North Carolina. Her husband, Peter, lost his battle to cancer only two months previously, and nothing catches her interest until someone comes to her door who feels Peter’s loss as deeply as she does. Samantha, a homeless young woman of twenty, is looking for Peter Raynor, although she won’t say why. She is visibly distraught when Liz tells her the news of his death, and disappears from town shortly after. But Liz can’t stop thinking about her.

Soon, retired Liz decides to take a fine arts course –  it was her favorite subject while in school, and painting is an activity she still enjoys occasionally. She doesn’t expect Jay, a local artist and the course instructor, to be so attractive … or to share her feelings. Liz is surprised to find that she wants another intimate relationship so soon after losing Peter, but Jay is good for her and the two become very close. When Samantha reappears, Liz decides to take her in and help her while she attends the local community college. But the young woman has an unexpected secret linking her to Liz, one that will change the older woman’s life forever if she chooses to accept its consequences.

Life is difficult, and Jay, Samantha, and Liz will all experience more trials, but the loving relationships they build with each other them help them to survive.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Gates, Nancy Gotter, Guilford, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Grace Greene. Beach Rental. Louisville, KY: Turquoise Morning Press, 2011.

Juli Cooke has been beaten down by life. Passed from foster home to foster home as a child, she didn’t even graduate from high school, and now works multiple jobs just to keep her head above water. She doesn’t have time for dreams – her life is an endless slog devoted solely to survival…until she meets Benjamin Bradshaw. Ben is dying from pancreatic cancer and feels almost as alone as Juli does since his devastated family can’t seem to stop grieving his impending loss. What he wants most is someone who will treat him normally and who can be a caring companion through his last few months. Juli’s sad life story and vulnerability move him, and he concocts an impulsive plan: if they marry, he could compensate Juli for her platonic companionship, and he wouldn’t be left alone with the disease or his loving but overbearing relatives.

Juli likes Ben, and while she first rejects his plan in alarm and suspicion, eventually agrees. She sees something in Ben worthy of her trust, and besides, how hard could it be to act as a platonic companion for a dying man? But living with Ben is far more emotionally entangling than she imagined. Despite the fact that their relationship is strictly contractual, Juli begins to want to belong.  Ben makes no secret of his feelings for her, and he nurtures her soul as much as he provides her body with food and shelter. His family may think she’s a tramp, and other problems from her past arise to haunt her, but Juli begins to feel safe in Ben’s beautiful home on the Crystal Coast.

Of course, this is the moment that everything in her new life changes, and Juli must draw on the lessons of faith and hope that Ben has been instilling in her. Life will always be difficult, but the difference is that Ben has empowered Juli not to give up. In her struggle with the meaning of love, widowhood, and her own past, Juli Bradshaw discovers strength that she didn’t realize she possessed.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Carteret, Coast, Greene, Grace

Tamara Leigh. Restless in Carolina. Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah, 2011.

Bridget Pickwick Buchanan, despite her large (and at times tiresome) family, the wealthy Pickwicks of Pickwick, North Carolina, has never felt more alone. The free-wheeling, avid environmental advocate, with her head full of dreadlocks and sarcastic attitude, finds herself struggling to get through her brother’s wedding one sweltering day in late July. It’s not just the terrible dress she has to wear, but the loss of her husband, Easton Buchanan, that makes it so difficult. Her sister Bonnie is convinced that she needs to snap out of it: Easton died four years ago, and since then Bridget has refused to take off her ring, kept her hair in dreads, and slept in the guest bedroom. Even worse, Uncle Obediah, the Pickwick patriarch, is selling the family estate in order to make restitution to those the (formerly) swindling Pickwicks wronged. Bridget has to find an environmentally-friendly buyer for the estate and its acres of unblemished forest, and fast, or risk seeing it developed into something horrible.

She is intrigued by J.C. Dirk, a handsome Atlanta-based developer who has established a reputation for his “green” work, but no one in his office will return her phone calls. Bridget, never one to be overlooked, decides that if the Mountain won’t come to Mohammed…in short order she finds herself in the polished offices of Dirk Developers Inc., interrupting Mr. J.C. Dirk’s busy schedule. Initially displeased when she crashes his meeting, J.C. agrees to come look at the property when she reveals her prestigious family name. But there may be more in J.C. Dirk, and his fateful trip to the small mountain town of Pickwick, than Bridget bargains for.

An inspirational tale of one woman’s journey back to life, God, and love (saving the planet along the way, of course), this third installment in the Southern Discomfort series doesn’t disappoint!

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Leigh, Tamara, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship

Ellen Block. The Definition of Wind. New York, NY: Bantam, 2011.

Abigail Harker, a Boston lexicologist turned Outer Banks lighthouse keeper, returns in Ellen Block’s sequel to The Language of Sand. A year has passed since the tragic fire that took her young son and husband, and Abby is only slightly closer to healing than she was when she came south to North Carolina’s Chapel Isle. Renting the dilapidated, possibly ghost-infested lighthouse and attached cottage isn’t helping: the toilet is constantly breaking, the windows are swollen, and the heat in the summer is ghastly. Even worse, summer brings crowds of marauding tourists, and Abby has reluctantly agreed to perform small home repairs for the local rental agency, Gilquist Realty. Wasps nests, toilet clogs, and irritable summer people are not a recipe for inner peace.

Neither are home invasions. Abby is dismayed to find that she is of particular interest to a burglar, which she correctly guesses is due to recent hubbub over The Bishop’s Mistress, a ship carrying valuables that sank off the coast of Chapel Isle in the late 18th century. The journals of the lighthouse keeper from that century (which she happened to find in her basement) could provide valuable clues, and the burglar seems to know this. But who could it be? Sheriff Caleb Larner, whom Abby knows to have secretly been a thief? Her landlord, the ditzy and manipulative Lottie? Those arson-enthused teens who are adding even more mayhem to the already tense island? Abby must try to protect the journals, handle the touchy lighthouse, and fend off both wasps and amorous summer suitors. Luckily she has the perfect vocabulary to handle any situation.

Ellen Block has written a simultaneously sensitive and hilarious mystery that happily resists descending into melancholy. Abby Harker is a strong, intelligent personality, perfect as a companion for a day on the Outer Banks, or as the subject of discussion in your local book club.

Check the availability of this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog, or start from the beginning of Abby’s story with The Language of Sand.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Block, Ellen, Coast, Mystery, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Diane Chamberlain. The Midwife’s Confession. Don Mills, Ontario: MIRA, 2011.

Thus far 2010 has been a difficult year for Tara Vincent and Emerson Stiles. First, Tara’s husband, Sam, dies in a car accident; then their best friend, a local midwife named Noelle Downie, inexplicably commits suicide. Sam, Noelle, Tara, and Emerson have been best friends since attending UNC Wilmington together in the 1970s, so the double loss is especially hard. The Noelle who Tara and Emerson knew was an ethical, passionate human being devoted to her work; she had no secrets, especially from them. But it appears they didn’t know the real Noelle, something that becomes uncomfortably evident as her private papers reveal more and more about her life, her family, and a horrifying mistake that may have led to her mental destruction.

The shocking revelations pile up, but what hurts Tara even more is the gaping distance growing between her and her daughter, sixteen-year-old Grace. Quiet, dark Grace was especially close to her father, as different from the blonde and outgoing Tara as night is from day. Tara loves her daughter desperately, but she feels helpless to repair their foundering relationship. She envies Emerson’s easy, close bond with her daughter (and Grace’s best friend), Jenny. But Noelle’s secrets will spiral wide to include both mothers and daughters, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Diane Chamberlain presents a heartfelt, intriguing novel about familial relationships: both those we construct through friendships, and those we are born into. No matter how close we are, we never truly know those we love as well as we might think. Written from multiple first-person viewpoints, Chamberlain tells the tales of Noelle, Grace, Tara, and Emerson across fifty years, flowing effortlessly between the past and present. This is an excellent beach read, book club novel, or for any time.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Chamberlain, Diane, Coast, Mystery, New Hanover, Robeson, Romance/Relationship

Michael Parker. The Watery Part of the World. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2011.

Some years ago- never mind how long precisely- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. So begins Ishmael’s adventures, and Michael Parker likewise takes the reader straight out to sea to meet Theodosia Burr Alston. Historically, Theodosia was the highly educated daughter of the infamous Aaron Burr. In early 1813, Burr had returned from voluntary exile in Europe, and Theodosia was eager to join him. Sailing north to their reunion in New York, she sank along with her ship off the North Carolina coast, never to be heard from again. Which is of course where all the best stories begin. Parker’s Theodosia survives the pirate raid that scuttles her vessel, eking out a precarious existence on the Outer Banks with the help of a recluse named Whaley. Though far removed from the elegant lady she once was, Theodosia is still her father’s devoted daughter. Among the most valuable cargo on the ship were Aaron Burr’s personal papers; papers that, falling into the wrong hands, would certainly endanger his life. The pirate captain, a savage but educated man named Daniels, now possesses them. Theodosia is determined to steal them back. Badly injured in attempting their recovery, she flees to nearby Yaupon Island.

Sail forward one hundred and sixty odd years to 1970. Yaupon Island is “six square miles of sea oat and hummock afloat off the cocked hip of North Carolina.” Its population is three: two old, white sisters, Whaley and Maggie, descendants of the remarkable Theodosia, and Woodrow Thornton, the many-greats grandchild of the man who saved her life. Why does Woodrow stay on that hurricane-battered spit of sand, his children wonder? All to care for two crazed white women who don’t treat him any better than a handyman? Maggie and Whaley, different as night and day, are certainly more than a little mad in their own ways, but possibly from sorrow and disappointed hopes more than anything else.

Parker flashes back and forth between these two tales like lightning on the shoals, filling his watery world with historical figures, heartbreak, betrayal, and the raw desire of the human heart to outlast every attempt at drowning.

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

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Coast, Dare, Historical, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Parker, Michael