Summer in the South by Cathy Holton was a fantastic summer read for me but it would be great for any time of the year. It’s a novel chock full of old family secrets and down home Southern charm. This is my second novel by Cathy Holton, the first being Beach Trip (my review), and what I love about her novels other than her wonderful writing is her ability to fully pull me into the story she is telling. I finish a book of hers feeling as though I know her characters and their story personally and that to me makes a great author.
Ava is at odds after the death of her mother, her affair with her boss on the rocks, and her career in the dumps. So when her old college pal Will phones and invites her to spend the summer at his family’s place in Woodburn, Tennessee, she quits her job and accepts. He’s asked her before but she’s always refused. This time though he manages to get her with the magic words – she can work full time on her novel while staying with his great-aunts Josephine and Fanny.
Ava has all kinds of preconceived notions of the South so when she arrives she is surprised to find a quaint little town with tree-lined streets. Ava is warmly welcomed into Josephine and Fanny’s home and even better she’s right on time for Toddy Time which in the south is very important. Over drinks Ava begins to learn a little more about the sisters, Will, and the place he grew up in. As time goes on Ava becomes more and more intrigued by the past lives of the sisters and of the secrets that seem to keep popping up especially about one person – Fanny’s first husband who just happened to be the black sheep of the family. Ava decides that this is what she is going to write her novel on and she sets about digging up all the information she can. Now in the south this is never a good idea and everyone keeps telling her to keep her nose out of things but of course she can’t. She has her novel to write and can’t tell anyone about it as they most certainly won’t approve.
Even more than having something to base her novel on, Ava finds herself really becoming fond of the sisters and all the daily rituals that the people in the south adhere to. Everything is at a much slower pace and Ava finds herself really enjoying that. For Ava, having had not the best of childhoods, being here with these people has finally given her the sense of family she has always desired.
Summer in the South was a great read for me and Cathy Holton never fails to keep me enthralled with her storytelling. This book had it all for me – eccentric characters, Southern charm, family drama, and even some ghostly elements which I loved. I also really appreciated the way the author wove the past and present together to bring the full story to light. Very well told and enjoyable novel and definitely one I would recommend!