Book Review: Five Miles South Of Peculiar

28 Jun

If these three sisters don’t change direction, they’ll end up where they’re going.

Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar. She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather’s legacy, and she enjoys being a pillar of the community. Sycamores is the kingdom where she reigns as queen . . . until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.

Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home. She may not be able to sing, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to fashion a new life in Peculiar, the little town she left behind.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls. Nolie has never wanted to live anywhere but Sycamores. She spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she’s created on the estate, but when she meets a man haunted by his own tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart or cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.

Can these sisters discover who they are meant to be when life takes an unforeseen detour? In a season of destiny, three unique women reunite and take unexpected journeys of the heart.

Christy-Award winner Angela Hunt writes for readers who have learned to expect the unexpected in novels from this versatile author. With nearly four million copies of her books sold worldwide, she is the best-selling author of more than 100 works ranging from picture books (The Tale of Three Trees) to nonfiction books, to novels.

Now that her two children have reached their twenties, Angie and her husband live in Florida with Very Big Dogs (a direct result of watching Turner and Hooch and Sandlot too many times). This affinity for mastiffs has not been without its rewards–one of their dogs was featured on Live with Regis and Kelly as the second-largest canine in America. Their dog received this dubious honor after an all-expenses-paid trip to Manhattan for the dog and the Hunts, complete with VIP air travel and a stretch limo in which they toured New York City.

Afterward, the dog gave out pawtographs at the airport.

Angela admits to being fascinated by animals, medicine, psychology, unexplained phenomena, and “just about everything” except sports. Books, she says, have always shaped her life— in the fifth grade she learned how to flirt from reading Gone with the Wind.

Her books have won the coveted Christy Award, several Angel Awards from Excellence in Media, and the Gold and Silver Medallions from Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year Award. In 2007, her novel The Note was featured as a Christmas movie on the Hallmark channel. Romantic Times Book Club presented her with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.

Also in 2006, Angela completed her Master of Biblical Studies in Theology degree. She completed her doctorate in 2008 and was accepted into a Th.D. program in 2009. When she’s not home reading or writing, Angie often travels to teach writing workshops at schools and writers’ conferences. And to talk about her dogs, of course.

My Impressions:

Angela Hunt is one of my favorite authors.  She consistently produces novels that make you think and touch your heart.  Her latest novel, Five Miles South of Peculiar, is another wonderful offering and perhaps my favorite by her so far.

The three Caldwell sisters — fraternal twins Carlene and Darlene and little sister Nolie (Magnolia) come from a family long established in the small Florida Panhandle town of Peculiar.  Darlene and Nolie have always lived in the family home, Sycamores, while Carlene left town over thirty years before to pursue fame and fortune on Broadway.  Darlene and Carlene’s 5oth birthday celebration finds them all back together, perhaps for good.

Angela Hunt explores the family dynamics of adult siblings.  There is a definite pecking order among the Caldwell women, one that resists change.  There are also secrets and betrayals in the family history that prevent a true closeness among them. I found Hunt’s characterization true to life.  The squabbling, hurt feelings, and fierce loyalty ring true, as does the stubborn refusal to allow change.  I especially liked the character of Nolie.  Left at the altar years before, Nolie has kept her life small — making aprons and raising dogs.  But Nolie is the wisest and strongest of the Caldwell sisters.  And despite the fears that accompany life changes, embraces love and life again.

I also loved the grace expressed in Five Miles South of Peculiar.  The Caldwells do unload their frustrations on each other, but the love they share covers up a lot of sins.  They each extend grace when none is deserved and often without the other’s knowledge — a wonderful illustration of God’s command to us to bear with one another.

And if you like small town reads filled with quirky, lovable people, this book is for you.  The townspeople like to describe themselves as Peculiar folks.  And that they are!  But aren’t we all.  You just might see your neighbor or yourself in the pages of this book.

All in all, I loved Five Miles South of Peculiar and recommend that you read it.

Highly Recommended.

(I received Five Miles South of Peculiar from Glass Road PR.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

One Response to “Book Review: Five Miles South Of Peculiar”

  1. semicolonsherry June 30, 2012 at 11:04 am #

    Yes, this does sound like something I would enjoy.

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