The Sound of Glass
By Karen White
Setting: Beaufort, SC
NAL/Penguin Random House Publishing Group,
May 12, 2015
E-Book/Hardcover: 432 pages
E-Galley provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now 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. http://www.karen-white.com/book.cfm?bookID=24#sthash.oGdJlaLH.dpuf
Certain themes repeat over and over in this novel and give it a dread-causing rhythm: domestic violence and death are primary, Disaster and accidents secondary.
At first I thought a paranormal creepiness was present, but the creepy element doesn’t turn out to have been anything paranormal as it is horribly, horribly criminal.
The Domestic Violence theme with it’s almost genetic nature is bad enough but what happens when women fight back was really hard to bear.
The story, as the blurb suggests is complicated when Merritt’s stepmother and half-brother come to stay, uninvited. The simply good stepmother is like Glinda the Good Witch — she is all sweetness and light mixed with Petticoat Junction and the Andy Griffin Show. Her entry onto the stage, her story, is another example of how keeping secrets makes everything worse.
While there are problems with the repeating themes, and some themes that don’t really go anywhere, for example the creepy thing that turns out to be not so very creepy, with the coincidental nature of the events in the book, I found the story rhythmically compelling.
But, even if there are some surprises, the outcome is telegraphed far ahead.
It was mostly Loralee’s story that affected me. I found there were some heavy stereotypes applied: Loralee’s down-home, fluffy biscuit and pecan pie hick-ishness, as well as Merritt’s cold and stoic behavior attributed to her being from Maine. These stereotypes were pretty heavy duty and both made the characters more like caricatures.
There are too many tragedies and terrible events in the book. No one in the story is normal, everyone has dead or dying parents, disasters and accidents abound. It is over the top.
There are too many themes, too many motifs. For example, obviously the reader wanted to use sea or beach glass is a symbol of strength and resilience. But there is the added creepy artwork of one of the women, and the tragic behavior of another. Plus air, water, fire and earth all get mixed in too.
I felt the author tried to give us a plethora of symbols and the sheer quantity detracted from their effectiveness.
This is listed as Suspense and Mystery, but it gets a romance at least gives it hope. I did cry quite a bit for some of it because there is a lot of pathos. But, I think I probably would not say it was in my top ten for the year.