20 June 2012
Review: Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt
Magnolia Caldwell lives in the family estate of Sycamores, located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar, in Jackson County, Florida. Nolie lives with her sister, Darlene, and two large dogs, and is pretty satisfied with her life but there are changes on the way. The Sycamores estate will soon revert to town ownership, and the homeless and divorced Reverend Eric Payne is offered a room in exchange for maintenance services. More surprising, Darlene’s twin sister, Carlene, is about to return home after a throat surgery destroys her singing voice and Broadway career. The twins are about to turn fifty, and Nolie is working with the town mayor to plan the party.
As the story progresses, we find that each of the sisters is hiding a secret. Darlene is jealous of her successful twin, and the sacrifices she made for Carlene. Meanwhile, Carlene is jealous of Darlene's marriage to Griff, and can only bear visiting Sycamores now that Griff has been dead for five years. And Nolie has never quite recovered from being left at the altar many years ago, so spends her time walking her dogs and sewing aprons for all the women in town.
I was initially attracted to Five Miles South of Peculiar by the eccentric title, and because I have enjoyed many of Angela Hunt’s books in the past (some more than others). Five Miles South of Peculiar is clearly literary fiction, in that the focus is more on relationships, although the plot includes a little romance. For that reason, I found it quite hard to get in to, as it felt as though I was just waiting for something to happen. There were some issues with clumsy point of view changes, with one passage being clearly from Darlene’s viewpoint, then switching to Nolie or Carlene without the usual break to indicate a scene change (although that could have just been a result of the pdf to Kindle conversion).
Once I got into it, I found Five Miles South of Peculiar revealed itself to be an enjoyable and sometimes humorous novel, with twin themes of forgiveness and choices. Nolie shows us that a lot of our happiness in life is around the choices we make, particularly the way we choose to react to things that affect us. While those things can hurt, we have to make the decision to forgive and move on, to be happy.
Thanks to Howard Paperback and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.