The Book of CarolSue [Book Review]

August 24, 2020

The Book of CarolSue by Lynne Hugo

the Book of CarolSue by Lynne Hugo (cover) Image: an idyllic farm house surrounded by grass and trees and flowers

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Siblings

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Thanks, #netgalley @kensingtonbooks for a complimentary e ARC of #TheBookofCarolSue  All opinions in this review are entirely my own.

CarolSue and her sister, Louisa, are in their 60s and are both widows. After CarolSue loses her husband suddenly and unexpectedly, Louisa swoops in with a master plan for CarolSue to move back to the farm and live with her. The sisters are very different people: CarolSue loves her life in Atlanta playing bridge and getting pedicures while Louisa loves canning vegetables and feeding her chickens on the farm. CarolSue has difficulty speaking up for herself and lets her sister make all the arrangements. A cast of colorful characters, an abandoned baby, a troubled reverend, and a young, desperate immigrant provide the complications.

My Thoughts:

Connections: Occasionally, readers make personal connections with their reading material and this almost always leads to the best reading experiences! Connections could include a location, a character’s challenges, a point of view, or a set of circumstances.

Enjoyable: I thoroughly enjoyed The Book of CarolSue because of connections made and the conversational tone! I especially was touched by the “baby” storyline because of a similar experience in my own life.

Connections: The elements I especially loved about The Book of CarolSue:

  • Well….we do share a name!
  • I love sibling stories, especially sisters! I think the sisters are realistically portrayed and the author demonstrates their loyalty, differences, and personalities.
  • I love stories with country folk and a rural setting. I especially love a farm setting because my dad was a farmer and I spent my younger years on a farm.
  • I love stories with mature main characters figuring out their best lives.
  • I also love quirky characters and this story doesn’t disappoint!
  • The most important and emotional connection for me is the care of the baby and the question of placement. I totally empathize with CarolSue and how quickly she bonds with the baby. Our family cared for an 18 month old for a week with the understanding that she was ours….and we had started the adoption process. Suddenly, Mom changes her mind and takes the baby away leaving me with a huge hole in my heart! So, I really empathize with CarolSue who quickly begins to think of the baby as her own.
  • I appreciate the friendly and conversational tone of the story. It reads like a visit with a friend who is filling you in on a long and involved life event complete with a little humor, lots of candid (insider) talk, and a bit of life commentary. I feel like I spent the afternoon with a good friend!
  • I love characters that grow and change…..even the two somewhat unlikeable characters that I had the least hope for (the sheriff and the reverend)  revealed their more likable and honorable sides at the end.

Less Connection: One part of the story that is challenging for me to fully connect with is the stereotypical portrayal of the charismatic church. At times I can appreciate the genuine faith, earnest people, and good intentions, and at other times I feel like it was there for comic relief or entertainment. As a person of faith, I lack the experience to relate to this particular religious experience and these particular parishioners. However, this was a small concern and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story.

Themes: Overall, The Book of CarolSue is a satisfying read with thought-provoking themes that include grief, found family, sibling relationships, life changes, a new and unexpected future, faith, handling life’s unexpected twists and turns, and the undocumented immigrant experience. Even though some of the themes are heavy, there is an overall light tone to the story.

“We all limp through life. We do the best we can, and it’s never good enough. Everyone’s got their secret despair, terrible regrets they carry from one year to the next. Everyone.”

Stand-Alone: The Book of CarolSue is the second in a series but it can absolutely be read as a stand-alone (I have not read the first one, The Testament of Harold’s Wife)

Recommended: I recommend this entertaining, quick reading, and heartfelt story for fans of light women’s fiction and for book clubs.

My Rating: 4  Stars


The Book of CarolSue by Lynne Hugo (cover) Image: an idyllic farmhouse surrounded by grass, trees, and flowers

The Book of CarolSue Information

Meet the Author, Lynne Hugo

Author Lynne Hugo

Lynne Hugo is an American author whose roots are in the northeast. A National Endowment For The Arts Fellowship recipient, she has also received repeat individual artists grants from the Ohio Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Her publications include eight novels, one volume of creative non-fiction, two books of poetry, and a children’s book. She lives with her husband, a photographer, in the Midwest. They have two grown children, three grandchildren, and a yellow Labrador retriever who excels at barking and playing tennis ball shortstop.

Ms. Hugo has taught creative writing to hundreds of schoolchildren through the Ohio Arts Council’s renowned Arts in Education program. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College, and a Master’s from Miami University.


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  1. Wonderful review Carol. I love when I can connect with a book, but I am so sorry that you had that experience in your life. This is one that I really want to read because I will be able to connect in many ways as well.

  2. Good review, Carol! The book sounds quite good; however, I may have to pass for now. My main connection is that I am a very recent widow; my husband died on Aug. 5. I’m afraid the book may be a little too soon for me.

    • Oh I’m sorry to hear that Debi. 💔💔💔 Thanks for sharing. Sending ❤️❤️❤️ 🤗🤗🤗🙏🙏🙏 It must be so extra incredibly difficult to grieve your loss in the midst of a pandemic. We’re you able to hold a service? I hope you have some family or friends close by. 😘

      • We did have a “socially distanced” service. My son is a pastor in the town we moved to two years ago, so it was at his church. My other sons are fairly close by here in Texas, as well. All three of them spoke as well as my oldest (of 8) grandchildren. However, many of our friends and family from outside our area were unable to travel to join us because of the pandemic which was sad.

      • Perhaps you can have a memorial service with friends later! That’s so special that your sons could participate! Do you have any girls? When my dad and sister died I was reminded both times about the true comfort of family. I’m happy to hear you are surrounded!

      • I think we had enough friends here to not have another service. It was posted online so others have been able to watch and see how lovely it was. I have only sons, but three wonderful daughter-in-love that are daughters of the heart. And now three granddaughters. It’s funny because I grew up in a family of three girls, and my dad was a terrific girl dad, but he badly wanted grandsons, so we gave him 8 and only granddaughter! And yes, we loved spoiling her and she’s a successful architect but engaging in sports and outdoor activities every chance she gets.

      • Lovely family Debi! We had 2 girls and one boy and now have 5 grandsons and 2 new great granddaughters! And it’s true that their spouses become family too! Again, I’m sorry for your devastating loss. C.S.Lewis said that grief is a gray sky spread over everything. I hope you are finding some comfort in your loving family and your precious memories.

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