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Falling Home Paperback – 2010
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Cassie Madison has it all: a high-powered advertising career, a stylish Manhattan apartment, and a sophisticated, rich, and gorgeous fiance. It's a far cry from her childhood in Walton, Georgia, home of the annual Kudzu Festival and hot, sticky summers. And then there are all the bad memories, the heartache. When Cassie's estranged sister calls to say that her father is dying, Cassie knows it's time to set aside her feelings and go home and face the sister she hasn't seen in 15 years. When her father dies, he leaves the family home to Cassie, who can't wait to get rid of it and get back to New York, her job, and her fiance, even if it means having a developer tear down the house. But something keeps her in Walton, and she doesn't know if it's her mending relationship with her sister; the irresistible, aggravating Sam Parker, who wants her to preserve her house; or the feeling of finally being home. This sweet book is highly recommended. Alexandra Shrake
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Cassie's New York fiance Andrew is presented as a loud-mouthed, snobbish, selfish, materialistic nincompoop -- representing the other America. Darn it, he won't even drive an American car. Of course, that Mercedes of his can't be trusted not to break down because of inferior German engineering. Cassie herself has to learn to abandon her smart suits and stiletto heels and vegetarian meals and sushi for chicken fried steaks, grits and other "real American food."
Cassie escaped from Georgia when her sister stole her boyfriend and for 15 years never returned. But now her father is dying so back home she comes, into the sweaty embrace of Dr Sam who has loved her since he was 16. Then a nerdy kid with glasses, he has gone to both Yale and Harvard Medical School but returned to minister to the honest townsfolk, wear cowboy boots and drive a truck.
Daddy dies pretty quickly and now Cassie has to make a decision about the lovely old family home he has left to her. Should she sell it, or better yet give it to ruthless developers, or should she stay put with her own folk and marry Dr Sam? Meantime, she has her five nieces and nephews to look after while her sister Harriet starts to feel a bit off-color. Poor old Harriet is always tired. Could it be that she's pregnant once more -- or maybe she has stage IV incurable breast cancer? Or maybe both?
This book has plenty of cheap, syrupy tragedies worthy of a Victorian melodrama and endless suspense while Cassie hums and haws about whether to stay or go, embrace Dr Sam or wrap the reedy New York arms of Andrew. around her Some choice! Should she opt for the cold, mean streets of New York where nobody knows your name and you have to work all the time or the sweet embrace of Georgia where the local vandals do know your name? Incidentally, we're told that in 15 years living in New York, Cassie never visited the Statue of Liberty. No doubt, she never went to the Metropolitan Opera or the Museum of Modern Art either. But no worries, there is a small fascimile of Lady Liberty in Walton -- and they have the Kudzu Parade so all is well.
There isn't an overt political agenda to this book but it is steeped in a cheap, sentimental conservatism that I quickly found cloying. If this is your cup of sweet southern tea, read on.
Cassie prepares to stay as long as her father needs her and then make a break back to NYC as fast as Andrew's fancy car will take her. When her father passes, he throws a wrench in her plans by leaving the house that has been in their family since the 1800s to Cassie. Throw in some meddling neighbors, a half-dozen neices and nephews she'd never met, the handsome town doctor, an unexpected illness, and some small town gossip and pranks and Cassie finds herself postponing her trip back to the city time and time again.
I'm very torn about this novel. While parts of it were great, there were a few things annoyed me throughout the story. While we are told that Cassie has done very well for herself, we are never told how she is keeping up with expenses while not working as days turn to weeks, which turn to months. I don't know why this bothered me so much, but it seems like something 99% of people would have to worry about in her situation. Up until about the last third of the book, Cassie is just plain unlikable. Yes, she's had a terrible wrong done to her, but she's snotty, selfish and at many times downright hateful (which they do address in the book) and then miraculously changes practially overnight. It seemed that the vast majority of the action took place in the first and last thirds of the book. The middle was just plain boring, and I almost gave up. It did manage to pull me back in for the ending, even more than I expected to be honest. I probably wouldn't recommend this to a friend, but I might try another Karen White book depending on the price. I wouldn't pay the $12 or $13 this one cost for another of her titles.
Many other reviewers have given the outline of the book so I'll spare that.
What I did like is the theme of forgiveness and how Cassie ultimately finds out what matters in life and how the people from a small town are portrayed as really caring about each other. Even one of the characters who is painted in a bad light in most of the book turns good at the end. There is a lot about family dynamics and the importance of family history and how some secrets can really destroy lives but they don't have to once they're out.
What I didn't like was how it's told from different points of view but all in third person. Most of it is from the view of Cassie, the main character. There are also some parts told from the view of Harriet and the niece Maddie but it's weird because they're all in third person yet Maddie's part calls the characters Aunt Cassie and Mama.
It is a very sad book. It is a romance but that is not the underlying main theme of the story. There is a happy ending.
Some of the characters I thought were one-dimensional such as Joe and Andrew and Aunt Lucinda even Sam who is almost too perfect and too noble.
All in all, though, I recommend and will look for the sequel.