The Sound of Glass
By Karen White
Publisher: NAL/Penguin Random
Publication Date: 5/12/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gonenow explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret.
It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.
Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.
Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country
A special thank you to PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Love the stunning front cover! THE SOUND OF GLASS by talented Karen White is an emotional multi-generational southern Gothic tale of mystery, secrets, crime, guilt, abuse, and lies; mixed with humor, wit, romance, and much needed healing. No one can tell it better than the "southern queen"--buried secrets, history, and mysterious attics. When all the secrets come to the surface, someone is "bound" to learn something, and be a better person for them. As the story opens we hear from Edith Heyward Beaufort, SC in 1955, with her three year old son CJ when a plane crashes with sirens, screams, tragedy, and death. Edith notices a brown leather suitcase that sat upright in her garden as if an uninvited visitor had suddenly come to call, which must have been from the plane crash. However, between the nicely folded clothes, she found no toiletry kit. There was however a note. A note she will take to her grave. She begins to wonder about its owner, possibly a business traveler? She had an inquisitive mind, as the only child of a widower police detective, she had never known any other way to be. So when the handsome lawyer Calhoun Heyward had come to her small town of Walterboro to try a case, she hadn’t known that she would have been better off pretending to be a simpering female without opinions. Because in the end, that was what he really wanted. Deep in her thoughts - a few seconds later, two policemen are at her door giving her news of her husband. Next, we jump to Merritt Heyward, 2014, a curator for a small art museum in Maine, moving to Beaufort, SC. She is not a happy person. She had been married to Cal which had been dead for two years and he had never spoken of his family or Beaufort in the seven years they were married. The Heyward’s were an old Beaufort family, since the Revolution. Cal’s grandmother left him the Greek Revival home. Now it is hers and the Beaufort Heritage Society is interested in acquiring the property for a house museum. She soon discovers Edith was a recluse and no one had been in the house in two decades—about the time Cal left. She also left Gibbs a generous sum, while she left all the contents to Cal, since he was the eldest. She was unaware Cal even had a brother, ten years younger than Cal, a pediatrician in Beaufort. The next character, which will make you smile is Loralee Purvis Connors, a former flight attendant for Delta, thirty-six years old from McDonough, GA. She has learned three main truths about life: "Time was a slippery thing, pain was temporary, and death wasn’t something to be afraid of." “She knew growing up dirt poor did not mean you had to stay that way and it wasn’t a sin to use the face and figure God gave you to get ahead in life, as long as it was legal.“ She also writes in her Journal of Truths, (loved it) which she will give to her son Owen one day. With his mama’s looks and his daddy’s brains, he would do just fine. Robert her pilot `husband is long gone and now they are on their way to see Robert’s daughter from his first marriage, to allow Owen to get acquainted with his step sister, Merritt. Lucky, they will be headed to South Carolina, which is better than Maine any day of the week. When Loralee shows up on Merritt’s doorstep with Owen, the last thing she wants is this southern belle with her non-stop chatty talking, her quirky southern phrases, her journal, and her ten year old geeky son Owen (now called Rocky). Merritt wants to be left alone. They are total opposites. However, Loralee knows Merritt is lost and is one of those people who thinks they have to live with their toes pressed against disaster and comes to expect it. "After all Merritt deserves a good hissy fit before she lays more hurt at her feet." There is much mystery surrounding each of the characters-how are they connected? Slowly we hear from the past, versus present as all the pieces come together, re-uniting of an odd sisterhood, survivors, a tragedy, and sometimes revenge. The lives of each, as they learn from one another; for a poignant and moving story which will warm your heart. With wind chimes and beautiful sea glass—mermaid tears, through beatings, storms, and weather ¬–standing the test of time without crumbling, becoming even more beautiful. With laughs and tears, a family joined by love as they break free from the past, and chains which have held them. I loved all of Loralee’s (a true southern belle) wisdom and inspiration from her Journal. Some of my favorites:
“The weight of fear goes away as soon as we face our monsters and realize they weren’t as scary as we thought.”
“Those who refuse to acknowledge the past are condemned to repeat it.”
“Southerners would talk a subject to death, until it lay gasping and panting in the dust.”
"Sugar, your clothes should always be tight enough to show that you’re a woman, but loose enough to how that you’re a lady.”
“Even the blackest darkness, there is always light shining somewhere.”
"You’ve been dealt a tough deck of cards, that’s for sure, but it’s time to pull up your big-girl panties and move on. Like my mama used to say, you can’t move forward if you always have one foot on the brake."
"A good hissy fit every once in a while is good for you. And if you want to cry your heart out about all the injustices of the world, then do that too. Bless my Heart! There are no shortcuts to anyplace worth going."
A journey of love, redemption, and healing ---If you love rich southern novels and strong women, with a twist of mystery and intrigue -this one is .for you! Fans of Mary Kay Andrews will be smiling.
About the Author
After playing hooky one day in the seventh grade to read Gone With the Wind, Karen White knew she wanted to be a writer—or become Scarlett O'Hara. In spite of these aspirations, Karen pursued a degree in business and graduated cum laude with a BS in Management from Tulane University. Ten years later, after leaving the business world, she fulfilled her dream of becoming a writer and wrote her first book. In the Shadow of the Moon was published in August, 2000. Her books have since been nominated for numerous national contests including the SIBA (Southeastern Booksellers Alliance) Fiction Book of the Year, and has twice won the National Readers’ Choice Award.
Karen is a New York Times bestselling author and currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a bestselling mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. Her eighteenth novel, A Long Time Gone, was published in June 2014 and debuted at #24 on the New York Times list. Her next novel, The Sound of Glass, will be published in May 2015 by New American Library, a division of Penguin RandomHouse Publishing Group.
Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. When not writing, she spends her time reading, scrapbooking, dancing, and avoiding cooking. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children, and a spoiled Havanese dog (who appears in several of her books), Quincy. Website Twitter