Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: April 25, 2017
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Goodreads says, "Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she'd spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley. Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley's life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open. Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart."
Ansley Murphy was living a charmed life in Manhattan until the untimely death of her husband. She is mother to three girls and decides to uproot her daughters and move them back to her summertime childhood escape of Peachtree Bluff with the hopes of starting over. Ansley has inherited her grandmother's house and since she is an interior designer, she hopes to transform it as it needs a lot of work. Her eldest daughter, Caroline, is a snob through and through and truly loathes the move back to some hick town. She was a senior in high school and her life was in the city. Sloane and Emerson, the younger two daughters, were able to acclimate much better to their new life. Fast forward many years and the girls are all grown and Ansley is living a happy life in Peachtree Bluff. She owns her own design business and things seem to be going well for her. That is until someone from her past reenters her life nearly making her collapse from the shock of it. To top it off, all three of her daughters and their families are coming back home for one reason or another, so this summer will be anything but quiet for Ansley. Kirsty Woodson Harvey's Slightly South of Simple is southern fiction at its best. There's a coastal small town setting that I fell in love with, there's a lot of family drama, and moments that will truly tug on your heartstrings.
I really enjoyed the character of Ansley in Slightly South of Simple. She is determined, a survivor, and a caring mom all around. I love that she was able to recreate a life for her back in Peachtree Bluff and create a business that she was proud of. When someone reenters her life and turns it upside down, she handled herself with grace. Despite the many secrets she kept for years from her family, I still enjoyed Ansley and could empathize with her.
Ansley's daughters all have aspects of their personalities that I enjoyed in Slightly South of Simple. The points of view switch from Caroline to Ansley only, so readers get to know Caroline a bit more than the other sisters. Her back story is the most complex since she is the oldest daughter and is fleeing her high society life in New York City due to a most upsetting scandal. Caroline is pregnant and is having major marital issues, so she returns home to her mother to get some rest and leave the judging eyes of the city. In fact, she even decides to enroll her daughter in school there, much to her husband's dismay. Then there's Sloane, the middle sister, whose husband is deployed overseas and she is left to raise two very rambunctious boys on her own. Lastly, there's Emerson a successful actress that is filming nearby. She is taking her diet for her role too far and making her entire family worry about her. So, throw all of these different personalities together for the summer, you bound to have some family drama, especially when the women unearth some startling secrets that Ansley has been hiding for years.
I adored the setting of Peachtree Bluff in Slightly South of Simple. I am such a sucker for a charming Southern setting and Harvey did a great job bringing it to life. The nosy neighbors, the coffee shop, the town's parades, and the old homes....loved it all!
I am thrilled that this book will be a part of a series. I look forward to not only following the sister's stories, but also reading more of Harvey's books in the future. Slightly South of Simple is summer reading at its best!