Book Review - Jackie K Cooper
THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY by Karen White
When you turn to the first page of Karen White's latest novel THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY it is like turning a doorknob and entering a stately home in Charleston, South Carolina. It is a warm, inviting sense of hospitality that makes you know your visit is going to be a heartfelt and entertaining experience. This is the fifth novel in White's "Tradd Street" series and it is one of the most highly anticipated books of the new year.
As the story opens the reader finds Melanie married to Jack Trenholm and the mother of twins. Jack is a writer and Melanie is a real estate agent. She has taken time off from her job due to the birth of their twins but it is now time for her to go back to work. Jack's daughter Nola lives with them and is a student at Ashley Hall. Her time is very occupied so Melanie must secure a permanent nanny for her children.
One of her first clients upon her return to work is a young woman named Jayne Smith. She has inherited a Charleston home on South Battery and wants Melanie to handle the sale of it. Melanie is reluctant at first because she has had so many problems with the house she inherited on Tradd Street. Plus she has some strange feelings about the house when she and Jayne check it out. This is not unusual due to the fact both Melanie and her mother have an uncanny ability to communicate with the spirit world.
If you cannot accept the premise of ghosts and their contact with mortals then this is not the book for you to read. However if you can go with the flow and fun of these "contacts" you will have a delightful time. Melanie accepts her gifts but does not wholeheartedly embrace them and at times they are more a nuisance than a blessing.
Karen White is a good writer regardless of the place, time or theme of her stories. Still it is evident she has a great fondness for the characters in this series and for the city of Charleston where it all takes place. She captures the essence of this legendary town and has maintained a consistency in the characters who populate the "Tradd Street" books.
Having Melanie back in s story is like welcoming home a favored friend who has been away for a while. This lady is part of a truly fascinating love story hat involves her husband Jack. He adores each and every quirk that makes Melanie the unique individual she is, and so do the readers. Melanie has it all, but down deep in her heart she can't believe her good fortune or that it s going to last. These insecurities are constantly dogging her and making her misjudge the ones whoo merely want to love her.
People read Karen White books for their strong plots and diversified characters. I appreciate all that but I am also drawn to her writing because of the subtlety of her sense of humor. When I read a Karen White book I generally have more than a few moments when I burst out laughing. Her characters are funny when, like Melanie, they do not know they are being funny. It is just an added feature of the Karen White writing style charm.
There will be more "Tradd Street" novels and that is a plus. Another is White's ability to be prolific. There will still certainly be stand alone novels that will give us other plots and other characters but we can rest assured another "Tradd Street" book will be along eventually. THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY clues us into the fact White's writing just gets better and better.
THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY is published by Berkley. It contains 352 pages and sells for $26.00.
Jackie K Cooper