Category Archives: Forsyth


Jim Booth. The New Southern Gentleman. Los Angeles, CA: Wexford College Presss, 2002.

gentlemanBy the time a man is in his twenties, he’s usually made some progress on figuring out who he is and what his place in the world might be.  Work, friendship, ethics, and love are some of the big issues that he’s grappled with.  Daniel Randolph Deal has an additional issue.  A descendant of two distinguished Virginia families, he has been raised by his traditionalist grandfather, a man obsessed with the glories of his family’s past.  Grandfather Deal is a Southern gentleman of the old school, and he expects his grandson to understand what is expected of him.

But Dan has been finding his way without much help.  Dan’s father died when Dan was two.  A few years later, his mother married a Frenchman and went to live abroad with her new husband.  Dan has done what he is supposed to–doing well in the classroom and on the playing field, going to the right schools, studying to be a lawyer.  But certain things still elude him.  He has been thrown off balance by certain romantic possibilities, especially Evelyn Daiches, a young woman he meets during a party at the house of his boisterous, boorish neighbor.  The New Southern Gentleman follows Dan through his first semester of law school at Wake Forest University and a fateful Christmas vacation when his relationships–with his friend Alex, his cousin Ramona, his grandfather, and Evelyn–collide.

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


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2002, Booth, Jim, Forsyth, Piedmont

Nicholas Sparks. The Longest Ride. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2013.

The Longest RideNicholas Sparks returns with another solid effort that is sure to have readers everywhere reaching for Kleenex. The Longest Ride, Sparks’ seventeenth novel, weaves together two seemingly disparate love stories. Readers might not immediately spot any connections, however, by the conclusion of the novel, Sparks stitches the two stories together with surprising poignancy.

The first story concerns 91-year old Ira Levinson and his beloved and deceased wife, Ruth. As the novel opens, the combination of Ira’s failing eyesight and a snowstorm has caused him to run his car off the road and down a steep embankment. The front of his car has smashed into a tree, and Ira is lodged tight in his damaged car. From what Ira can tell, he has sustained several possible injuries. If he tries to climb out, with his age, his wounds, and the icy slope, he would never be able to make it back to the road. So Ira has no choice but to wait in his car until someone discovers him. While Ira bides his time, he imagines that his late wife, Ruth has materialized in the passenger seat of the car.

She and Ira reminisce about their marriage. Their story starts in Greensboro. They met through their families. Ruth’s parents recently immigrated from the threat of Hitler’s burgeoning regime and Ira’s parents owned a local haberdashery. The courtship was slow and managed to endure through World War II. Ira revisits all the unexpected twists in their lives, some good and others bad. Ruth, or at least the fantasy of her, helps keep Ira conscious as he struggles to hold onto life. Sparks drums up a great depth of emotion and convincing detail with Ira and Ruth’s romance. Readers will feel invested in this plot line and will wonder what will happen to Ira. Will someone rescue him in time?

Meanwhile, in the second story, Sophia, an art history major and senior at Wake Forest, has called it quits with her unfaithful boyfriend Brian.  She has discovered that Brian has cheated on her once again. She insists to herself that this will be the last time–she is done with him. But slipping away from Brian’s clutches is easier said than done – as evidenced by her past failed attempts to break it off. As Sophia’s best friend Marcia puts it, Brian “is funny, good-looking and rich” plus he’s the most popular guy in his fraternity. Essentially, he possesses all the characteristics of a perfect catch (minus the infidelities, of course).  Brian can’t accept that the relationship is over. He has followed Sophia around campus since the break up and she’s sick and a little bit scared of his stalking.

During a weekend trip to a bull-riding competition with her sorority sisters, Brian approaches Sophia. Just before the confrontation escalates into something nasty, one of the cowboys intercedes and diffuses the situation. After the awkward incident Sophia and the cowboy, named Luke, become acquainted. Luke lives with his mother on a ranch near King. He competes in bull-riding competitions partially out of love of riding and partially to help pay the bills. Soon Sophia is spending all her free time with Luke. Marcia warns her against leaping so quickly into another long-term relationship and predicts that Sophia and Luke’s lives are headed in different paths. For a while, the pair is blissfully happy. Then the real world intervenes–Luke withholds a serious secret, and Sophia feels pressured about finding a job after she graduates in the spring. Can the new couple brave the strain from the outside world, or will the hard realities of life crush their relationship?

Despite the surface differences, the two love stories mirror each other in several respects. Ruth and Sophia are both immigrants with who have an affinity for art and date rich, important men. Ira and Luke are the men who stand on the sidelines and come to marvel that such special women could fall for them instead of the obvious choice. Ira and Ruth’s tale is expansive in its recollection, but the actual story within the span of the novel is compacted given the parameters of the car accident in terms of time and space. Luke and Sophia’s romance is more spread out and has a longer time frame to develop. Sparks alternates between the two stories, told from the point-of-view of Ira, Sophia, and Luke. Together they play off each other nicely – one love story at its end and the other at its beginning.

Check out this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Forsyth, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship, Sparks, Nicholas

Alice J. Wisler. A Wedding Invitation. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2011.

When Samantha Bravencourt misinterprets a wedding invitation and lands up at a stranger’s nuptials in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, she’s embarrassed and annoyed. Still, the trip gives Sam the chance to visit her eccentric Aunt Dovie, and to get away from working in her mom’s D.C. fashion boutique. What she doesn’t count on is the past returning to haunt her with a vengeance.

When Samantha last saw Lien Hong , it was nearly a decade earlier, and Lien was Sam’s student at the Philippine Refugee Processing Center near Manila. In 1985, many Vietnamese, Laotian, and Cambodian families were trying to immigrate to the United States. The teachers at the PRPC taught them English and American culture, attempting to ease their transition. Now Lien and her family are in Winston-Salem, and she is thrilled to find Samantha. Sam isn’t sure how she feels about their reunion. Lien was a handful then, and obsessed with the man Sam had a crush on–her handsome fellow teacher, Carson Brylie, also a North Carolinian. Carson broke Sam’s heart, and she would rather not be reminded of him or this part of her past.

But she doesn’t have much choice when Carson hears about her presence, and calls. Soon he’s back in her life, and as confusing as ever. Sam doesn’t know what Carson wants, but she does know that she won’t be so fast to give away her heart a second time. Unfortunately, since Lien needs both Sam and Carson’s help badly, Sam can’t avoid him. The young Vietnamese is an Amerasian: the daughter of a Vietnamese woman and an American G.I. Ridiculed and stigmatized, Lien’s mother gave her up to relatives as a baby, and fled. Now Lien is getting married, and wants to find her birth mother more than anything. As Samantha and Carson spend more and more time together in an effort to unite a family, Sam learns that the surest path to happiness lies in learning to trust herself, others, and God once more.

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



Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Forsyth, Piedmont, Religious/Inspirational, Romance/Relationship, Wisler, Alice J.

David Shaffer. The Double Lie. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2011.

Miami private eye Harry Caine is back in North Carolina in this latest installment in the Harry Caine Mysteries series.  His client is Elaine Sanford, a wealthy widow who wants Caine to dig up evidence that will save her son, Frank, from a murder conviction.  Frank is no boy scout.  He is already in a federal prison for lying about witnessing the kidnapping of a young girl in Virginia.  Shortly after Caine visits him, Frank escapes.  Caine is certain that Frank will try to harm the woman who will testify against him in the murder trial, but Frank may have another agenda that Caine can’t quite make out.  As Caine pieces the puzzle together, readers are  plunged into a world of stolen goods, shifting loyalties, and multiple murders.  As in earlier books, Caine is aided by Mona Morgan, who is developing into a confident–and attractive–investigator.   A new character, Florida private investigator, Alice Anderson is introduced; it will be interesting to see if she appears in future books.


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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Forsyth, Guilford, Mystery, Novels in Series, Piedmont, Randolph, Shaffer, David

Dixie Land. Second Chances. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Books, 2006.

Grace Garrett is thrown for a loop when she stops by her husband’s law office one night and finds an office assistant, half-dressed, on his desk. Can it be that her husband of twenty-plus years has been carrying on with this young woman?  When the woman is murdered, Grace is not the only one who wants an answer to this question.

Second Chances follows Grace as she attempts to juggle her responsibilities as a mother, daughter, wife, and friend with her investigations into her husband’s life and the history of the dead woman.  There are many twists and turns before Grace learns the full story and builds a new life for herself off the foundations of her years as Mrs. Andrew Garrett.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000, 2006, Forsyth, Land, Dixie, Mystery, Piedmont

Erin McKean. The Secret Lives of Dresses. New York, NY: 5 Spot, 2011.

Dora Winston has been raised by her grandmother, Mimi, in Forsyth, North Carolina.  Dora has pretty much taken for granted the particulars of Mimi’s life–her vintage clothing store, the little stories that Mimi writes about some of the dresses, Mimi’s loving and lovely home, and her colorful friends.  When Dora is called home from college after Mimi has a stroke, Mimi’s life comes into focus for Dora and Dora realizes that she has to fight to preserve Mimi’s legacy.  Mimi’s friends line up to help Dora, but her aunt and cousin (both of whom lack Mimi’s good taste) want to transform the store, and in her will Mimi left the shop to her brother, not Dora.  The situation comes to a head when the shop looses its lease, but Dora sees an opportunity in the crisis. With help from Mimi’s friends, including the attractive young architect, Con, Dora finds a way to continue Mimi’s work.

Winston-Salem may be the model for the fictional city of Forsyth.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Forsyth, McKean, Erin, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

David Shaffer. Dead Right. Kernersville, NC: Alabaster Book Publishing, 2007.

Harry Caine is a private investigator who is beginning to make a name for himself in Palm Beach, Florida.  When a satisfied client recommends him to one of her friends in North Carolina, Harry and his assistant Mona Morgan come north to investigate a very cold case.  Margaret Elizabeth Roy was a well-liked woman in her early twenties when she was brutally murdered in 1988.  Margaret’s aunt, a wealthy and influential woman in (fictitious) Davie, North Carolina, has pressured the police to keep the case open and has paid several investigators, but all of the investigations came to dead ends.

Margaret’s husband, Lloyd Roy, was the prime suspect since day one, but Harry’s intuition tells him to check on Margaret’s work relationships in addition to her personal ones.  In a novel with a number of red herrings, Harry and Mona’s systematic and logical investigation leads them to the truth. This is a satisfying novel for readers who like a traditional whodunit.

This is the third book in the Harry Caine Mysteries series, but the first one set in North Carolina.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2007, Forsyth, Mystery, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Shaffer, David

Cameron Kent. The Road to Devotion. Winston-Salem, NC: Press 53, 2009.

Transition is rapidly occurring on the Talton farm in 1860 Winston, North Carolina. Miles Talton, the patriarch, has just passed away, leaving his strong-willed daughter, Sarah, in charge. However, the farm is failing, requiring her to sell slaves and acres to survive. Also changing is Sarah’s perception of slavery as she befriends Jacquerie, a Louisiana runaway who ends up on the Talton farm. Jacquerie’s knowledge of the French language makes her valuable as she is the only mode of communication for Sarah and her beau, wealthy French businessman Edouard LeGare. Finally, the onset of the Civil War is transforming the country. As Sarah and her community adjust to the changes, she learns the importance of staying true to herself, even if others do not understand her.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Forsyth, Historical, Kent, Cameron, Piedmont, Surry

John Hutton. Christmas Maus: Another Small Tale of Sisters House in Salem. Winston-Salem, NC: Salem Academy and College, 2008.

This picture book follows Sister Maus as she decorates the Salem Single Sisters’ House and bakes cookies in preparation for Christmas. The tiny mouse also meets new friends who live in the nearby Brothers’ House. A section of author’s notes in the back of the book provides more information about traditional Moravian Christmases, like those celebrated in Salem.

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2000-2009, 2008, Children & Young Adults, Forsyth, Historical, Hutton, John, Piedmont

Under Golden Skies, or, In the New Eldorado. Raleigh,NC: Edwards & Broughton, 1898.

Wealthy Winston-Salem resident Dr. Ralph Leslie becomes guardian to the daughter of a woman he loved in his youth. His relationship with his ward deepens into love during the course of the action which moves through popular vacation spots around the state. The publisher characterized this as “A Story of Southern Life by A Southern Author.” The author is thought to be Mrs. D. C. Osborne.

Check this title’s availability and access an online copy through the UNC-Chapel Hill Library Catalog.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 1890-1899, 1898, Anonymous, Forsyth, Novels to Read Online