At some point along the line publishers have decided a big plus for a book is to call it "a lowcountry novel." This means the story takes place in an undefined region of South Carolina but it is thought to be primarily the Charleston area. Kim Boykin's latest novel PALMETTO MOON has received this designation and it is warranted. Her story takes place in Charleston and the nearby community of Round O, South Carolina.
The time is 1947 and Vada Hadley is engaged to be married to Justin McLeod. This marriage will be one of the big social events in Charleston as it will mark the merger of two of this city's most prominent and wealthy families. The problem is Vada is not on board with the idea of marrying the domineering Justin. In fact she is flat out desperate to escape this "arranged" marriage.
Thanks to the encouragement of two of the family servants, Vada pulls a "runaway bride" act that would thrill Julia Roberts. She escapes to the small town of Round O where she secures a teaching position for the fall. While waiting for school to start she begins to help a widow tend to her three children. She also makes the acquaintance of a Prince Charming named Frank Darling.
The questions of the book are whether or not Vada can escape the clutches of her parents and her fiance, and if she can find happiness with the humble man who truly loves her. The answer to these questions might not be as obvious as they appear.
Boykin, a South Carolina native, knows how to tell a story that will charm and fascinate her readers. She makes her heroine a woman who takes her time in deciding her future while the man who loves her waits. This story may be set in the 40s but Vada is ahead of her time. She will decide her future and not bend her will to any man.
The author also knows a good story must have a strong supporting cast so she adds character after character to the environment in which Vada finds herself. They are all unique and range from a mean spirited landlady to a waitress full of sugar and sass. Each one makes an impression and each one could be the subject of a full story of their own.
The richness of the locale, the uniqueness of the characters, and the slow moving but engrossing rhythm of the story make PALMETTO MOON a fairy tale to be savored. At first glance it might appear to be just a simple love story, but there are complexities and shades of character hidden within the plot. Your mind is absorbing them as you read and they come to mind when the story ends.
It is always nice to discover a new talented author and Kim Boykin is quite a find. Pick up PALMETTO MOON and let her take you on a delightful journey to the lowcountry. It is a magical place where fairy tales are a part of real life adventures.
PALMETTO MOON is published by Berkley Books. It contains 320 pages and sells for $15.00.
Jackie K Cooper