Friday, August 10, 2012

Five Miles South of Peculiar - by Angela Hunt

Darlene, Carlene, and Magnolia Caldwell grew up Five Miles South of Peculiar, on a large estate handed down from their grandfather, Chase Caldwell.  Darlene and Nolie (Magnolia) have been living in the home together, while Carlene has been working on Broadway as the "famous" sister.  However, Carlene's career has come to a sudden end, and while Nolie welcomes her sister's "visit" with open arms, Darly has reservations and is impatiently waiting for Carly to return to the big city.  Carly can't bring herself to admit her defeat, even as she finds herself drawn back to small-town life.  With the home's ownership only six years away from reverting to the county, all three sisters need to find a plan for their lives, as well as finding their place in each others'.

I have really mixed feelings about this book.  I found myself really drawn to the characters and was quickly immersed in the feel of the town and their lives.  Being invested in the story enough to care about the characters usually makes a book good in my opinion.  However, the inconsistencies in the characters started to bother me throughout the book.  Darlene would say that she wanted to reconcile with her sister, Carlene, but continue to voice how she couldn't wait for Carly to return to New York.  Carly genuinely seemed to desire a renewed relationship with Darly, but she couldn't discuss the reason for her return, and she continued to make changes to Darly's life without discussing them with her.  I know that a prolonged tension usually makes for a more interesting book, but Darly's eagerness for Carly's return became overdone.

The other sticking point that kept me from liking this book more was the feeling that I was being interjected into the middle of the sisters' stories.  Usually I get that feeling when I have picked up a second or third book in a series without reading the first book.  Unfortunately, this seems to be a stand-alone book.  It reads like it would make a much better middle book.  There was so much background information about the sisters' lives that needed to be fleshed out earlier in the story.  Also, the ending was wrapped up so quickly that I would have liked knowing there was another book coming to finish out the new directions that were introduced in a flood at the end of this book.

The mixed feelings make it difficult for me to give this book a rating.  I think I give it 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 stars for making me care about the characters enough to want to know more about them.

I have read several of Ms. Hunt's books before and have enjoyed them; this book fell a bit short of her other works, in my opinion.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

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