This is the story of Holly Oak, a house in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and the generations of women who lived in the house between the Civil War and present day. A cannonball still stuck in the side of the house is a reminder that it survived the war, but it did so because the family had connections to both sides. Rumors say the house is haunted, that there are Yankee soldiers buried in the cellar, and that one of the women in the family was a spy for the North.
Beginning in this way, with Adelaide, the great-granddaughter of the supposed spy, hosting a wedding reception in her garden, I had high hopes for the book. Adelaide's daughter and her husband Carson had lived in the house. Their two children were born there. Then the wife died and Carson and his kids had stayed at Holly Oak, believing the children shouldn't be moved from the only home they had ever known. Now Carson has married a young woman from Texas and they too will live at Holly Oak.
The bride, Marielle, has had a successful career and is presumably an intelligent woman. But this is where the story begins to fall apart for me because Marielle suddenly turns into a timid, frightened, gullible child/woman.
Holly Oak is full of secrets and rumors that no one has bothered to investigate and set to rest. It's like a soap opera where everyone keeps secrets which cause all kinds of problems. I kept thinking, "What's the big deal? Why don't these characters just come out with it?" This could be such a good story but I'm sorry, it just didn't work for me. Nor was there any sense of place and motivation was lacking for the characters' actions.
This is just my opinion of course and you might love the book. It is coming out Monday, Oct. 3, 2011. If you like family sagas and historical fiction, this may well be the book for you.