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Surface and Shadow Paperback – September 1, 2016
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“While Surface and Shadow offers the compelling tensions of a mystery story, its deeper probing involves the unknowns of the central character, Lydia Colton. As she delves into the lives of others connected with the circumstances of a strange death from a half century before, Lydia comes to realize that she is also confronting the secrets of her own identity. The answer to one mystery is inseparable from an illumination of the second. What started as a concern about a long ago death becomes the source of lives renewed, for Lydia and for others. The resolution satisfies the reader as much as it does Lydia.” – Walter Cummins, Editor Emeritus of The Literary Review
“Sally Whitney’s literary style delivers a character driven novel set in Tanner, North Carolina, a small town with a southern sense of place where unspoken rules guard the family secrets of a prominent family. Lydia Colton, a young married woman, feels like an invisible outsider in Tanner until she initiates changes in her life and in the lives of others. She discovers ways to strengthen the fragile thread of humanity that runs through all of us when she searches to uncover details surrounding the death of a member of this prominent family. Vivid descriptions embrace the 1970s years with remarkable accuracy in this well-crafted narrative that crosses boundaries implanted in the old southern ways.” – Judith Bader Jones, author of The Language of Small Rooms, Moon Flowers on the Fence, and Delta Pearls
“A first-rate mystery in the hands of an accomplished storyteller.” – Philip Cioffari, author of Dark Road, Dead End; Jesusville; and Catholic Boys
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I love a novel that keeps me turning pages and also gives me issues to think about. Surface and Shadow does both. I could identify with Lydia Colton immediately, which caused me to cheer for her and fear for her on every step of her quest to find out the truth about the death of Howard Galloway, a young man who was one of two heirs to his family’s cotton mill and fortune. I worried about what was going to happen to Lydia, and at the same time I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. I also understood the frustrations she was experiencing in her life. Women in the 1970s were beginning to realize the limitations society placed on them, and out of that realization began the modern march that’s led to the first woman nominated for President of the United States. Whitney nails the details of the era and of Lydia’s life in this small southern mill town, illuminating the defining roles shaped by gender, class, and race. Lydia is driven by the need to find justice for Howard, but just as consuming is her need to find a way to be the person she wants and needs to be. The characters in this novel are authentic, as real as your neighbors and family. They’re not all good or all bad, just people trying to live their lives within and sometimes outside the ways expected of them. I look forward to the next intriguing novel from this author.