August 24, 2020
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.
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.”
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
Meet the Author, Lynne Hugo
Does The Book of CarolSue sound like a book you might put on your TBR?
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