Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Lost Hours by Karen White (Book Review)

Title: The Lost Hours
Author: Karen White
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Fiction
Available: Apr 7, 2009
This book was made available to me by Dorothy for the Pump Up Your Book Virtual Tour.

If you missed Karen's guest post - you should go back and take a look - It was fabulous!

First sentence: When I was twelve years old, I helped my granddaddy bury a box in the back garden of our Savannah home.

Piper Mills has been raised by her grandparents since the age of six, when her parents were killed in a car crash. A crash that she walked away from. She goes on with her life, believing that she will be free from tragedy. Living in Savannah, her grandparents encourage her to become an equestrian. On the eve of realizing her dream of going to the Olympics, Piper takes a fall off her horse that almost kills her. Her broken bones heal, leaving her with a limp, but her broken spirit does not.

All Piper remembers of her grandmother is a woman in the background, with no spirit, no opinions, no life. She has been in a nursing home due to Alzheimer's for years. When Piper's granddaddy dies, she is give clues that lead her to believe there is more to her grandmother's story. Sadly, her grandmother dies before she can learn what that might be.

Armed with a tin box full of scrapbook pages, a key to a hidden room, an angel charm, and a knitted blue baby sweater and blanket, Piper sets off to discover the grandmother she never knew. Along the way, maybe she will reawaken the Piper that has been sleeping for so long.

This was my first Karen White book, though The House on Tradd Street has been on my TBR list for awhile. I really, truly enjoyed this book. It was so easy to become immersed in the story and to visualize Asphodel Meadows and Savannah.

Gripping the wheel tightly, I angled the car and turned, finding myself suddenly enveloped in the canopy of an ancient live oak alley. I stopped the car, looking at the old trees that barely resembled the live oaks of Savannah's squares despite the generous shawls of Spanish moss. These trees were darkened and withered, despite enough leaves to show that they were alive. But the limbs were bent and gnarled, the knobs at the forks like the bent shoulders of mourners at a funeral.(p54)
Ms. White combines tragedy, family, mystery and a touch of romance for a heartwarming story that life does go on.

And now for a little bit about the author:

They had her at hello. From her first moments in Charleston and Savannah, and on the South Carolina and Georgia coasts, novelist Karen While was in love. Was it the history, the architecture, the sound of the sea, the light, the traditions, the people, the lore? Check all of the above. Add Karen’s storytelling talent, her endless curiosity about relationships and emotions, and her sensitivity to the rhythms of the south, and it seems inevitable that this mix of passions would find its way into her work.

Known for award winning novels such as Learning to Breathe, the recently announced Southern Independent Bookseller Association’s 2009 Book of the Year Award nomination for The House on Tradd Street, and for the highly praised The Memory of Water, Karen has already shared the coastal Low country and Charleston with readers. Spanning eighty years, Karen’s new book, THE LOST HOURS, now takes them to Savannah and its environs. There a shared scrapbook and a necklace of charms unleash buried memories, opening the door to the secret lives of three women, their experiences, and the friendships that remain entwined even beyond the grave, and whose grandchildren are determined to solve the mysteries of their past.

Karen, so often inspired in her writing by architecture and history, has set much of THE LOST HOURS at Asphodel Meadows, a home and property inspired by the English Regency styled house at Hermitage Plantation along the Savannah River, and at her protagonist’s “Savannah gray brick” home in Monterey Square, one of the twenty-one squares that still exist in the city.

Italian and French by ancestry, a southerner and a storyteller by birth, Karen has lived in many different places. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she has also lived in Texas, New Jersey, Louisiana, Georgia, Venezuela and England, where she attended the American School in London. She returned to the states for college and graduated from New Orleans’ Tulane University. Hailing from a family with roots firmly set in Mississippi (the Delta and Biloxi), Karen notes that “searching for home brings me to the south again and again.”

Always, Karen credits her maternal grandmother Grace Bianca, to whom she’s dedicated THE LOST HOURS, with inspiring and teaching her through the stories she shared for so many years. Karen also notes the amount of time she spent listening as adults visited in her grandmother’s Mississippi kitchen, telling stories and gossiping while she played under the table. She says it started her on the road to telling her own tales. The deal was sealed in the seventh grade when she skipped school and read Gone With The Wind. She knew—just knew—she was destined to grow up to be either Scarlet O’Hara or a writer.

Karen’s work has appeared on the South East Independent Booksellers best sellers list. Her novel The Memory of Water, was WXIA-TV’s Atlanta & Company Book Club Selection. Her work has been reviewed in Southern Living, Atlanta Magazine and by Fresh Fiction, among many others, and has been adopted by numerous independent booksellers for book club recommendations and as featured titles in their stores. This past year her 2007 novel Learning to Breathe received several honors, notably the National Readers’ Choice Award.

In addition to THE LOST HOURS, Karen White’s books include The House on Tradd Street, The Memory of Water, Learning to Breathe, Pieces of the Heart and The Color of Light. She lives in the Atlanta metro area with her family where she is putting the finishing touches on her next novel The Girl on Legare Street.
You can visit Karen White's website at www.karen-white.com.


bermudaonion said...

This sounds so good. I love Savannah, so the setting appeals to me too.

Darlene said...

I just loved this book. I can't wait to read her others. I have them. I love the quote you used about the trees. I had thought of using that one too. It's great.

Margay Leah Justice said...

She had me at the first line! Can't wait to get a copy of this book to read - it is shooting straight up to the top of my tbr list!

joyh82 said...

I am currently reading this one and have read her books before.
I am having a hard time putting it down. :) Pieces of the heart by her was also very good.

Anna said...

I loved this book. I thought The House on Tradd Street was great, too.

Diary of an Eccentric


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