Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
FLIGHT PATTERNS by Karen White
Karen White does not believe in keeping things simple. Her novels are full of complicated relationships and ominous occurrences. Her new novel FLIGHT PATTERNS is a good example of this style. In it every single character has some complexity as is the case in real life. Plus there is a family mystery foreshadowed in the early pages of the book that continues to loom until the very end when all is explained. Because of these factors FLIGHT PATTERNS is a book that is hard to put down until the last secret is uncovered and the last mystery resolved.
Georgia Chambers is living in New Orleans and working as antiques evaluator. She is in her thirties, single and totally independent. One day her boss introduces her to James Graf, a New Yorker who is wanting some of his grandmother's china evaluated. He has brought with him a cup and saucer that shows the unique patterning on the china. Georgia is immediately struck by the thought she has seen this pattern before on pieces located in her family home.
She decides to make a trip back to Apalachicola, Florida and see if she can find the pieces. This will help her set a value for James pieces. In an awkward moment in the story James insists he should accompany her to her home. Georgia has not been back to her home place in ten years and has had little if any communication with her grandfather, mother, sister or niece who live there. She tries to dissuade James from accompanying her but her boss is on his side so she agrees.
Once home old conflicts with her sister Maisy raise their heads. She also has to deal with her mother Birdie who does not speak. Plus there are instances in Georgia's past she does not want to face but at every turn they seem to be waiting to be brought up.
White focuses on the complications family relationships can have. She draws a bead on the lack of communication that arises when two people are unwilling to meet each other half way. And she shines a light on dark secrets that can corrode our souls and decay our lives. These are not simple things to write about, much less create.
The true beauty of White's writing comes in her creation of characters. Readers don't just meet these people, they get to know them pretty much inside out. It is as if you could head to Apalachicola and find their house and them living there. If the Apalachicola Chamber of Commerce hasn't sent a letter of appreciation to Ms. White they should do it now. She makes Apalachicola seem just a step under Paradise.
This book is not a simple summer read. It takes concentration and effort. Still it is one of the most satisfying stories you will read all summer long. The payoff is that good, and the pleasure of White's words that intense. Somehow White finds these plots and characters in the recesses of her mind and brings them forward in living detail. Let's hope she continues to do so.
FLIGHT PATTERNS is published by New American Library. It contains 416 pages and sells for $26.00.
Jackie K Cooper