Five Miles South of Peculiar by Angela Hunt is a poignant yet joyful novel of a Southern family finding its way home. The Caldwells of Peculiar, Florida have always lived in their estate The Sycamores, but in 2018, exactly fifty years after the death of the family founder, all of the property will pass into the hands of the city. Despite this looming deadline, Darlene and Nolie Caldwell continue living life at The Sycamores as it's been lived for the past fifty years, without thought of social networking or computers. Nolie spends her time sewing beautiful aprons and dreams of the day when she'll meet a good man to help ease the wounds of a past love. Darlene is a force of nature within Peculiar, running most of the town's groups, while almost having a relationship with the mayor. When Darlene's twin sister Carlene returns home from a successful life on Broadway (and hiding a secret), Darlene is at first thrilled to unite with her other half, but the twins were in love with the same man, who became Darlene's husband, and that wound is still tender and deep in them both. The three women are all looking for something, but they each need to heal the pain between them before they can find it. Hunt has created another powerful novel filled with people you not only want to know, but feel like you've met. This story may not have a time-traveling serial killer or vampires falling in love with ghosts; instead it has heart and a deep understanding of people. Hunt doesn't have to use flashy storylines to create a novel that is impossible to put down. The story of the Caldwell sisters will stay with me, because of Hunt's ability to craft such fully fleshed characters. I love the author's work, and this novel will certainly gain her some new fans.
Angela Hunt in her new book, "Five Miles South of Peculiar" published by Howard Books takes us to the Sycamores Estates and the lives of the Caldwell sisters.
From the back cover: 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.
As human beings what is the one thing we all like to keep? The answer, secrets. What is the one thing that God knows that we should not keep because it is detrimental to, not only our health, but our relationships as well? You guessed it, secrets. What is the one thing that Darlene, Carlene, and Magnolia have in common? Of course, secrets. Ms. Hunt does a wonderful job of showing us how each woman's secrets affect not only their relationship with each other but the outside world as well. This book covers a wide range of topics one of them is "trauma", emotional trauma is one of the hardest things to recuperate from and all three sisters have had emotional trauma and it has affected them deeply. This is an important subject as many of us are motivated from "emotional trauma" and we have no idea. When we see the devastating results of the emotional trauma in each sister and then see how God heals them we are given hope that the exact same thing can be done for each of us as well.
Angela Hunt has given us a terrific book in "Five Miles South of Peculiar". I have never had sisters so I have no reference point but it was fun watching the family dynamic work among them. Ms. Hunt has them dealing with jealousy, betrayal and destruction of dreams. Not topics that you think would be reader friendly but Ms. Hunt is such an accomplished writer this is handled extremely well. If you are looking for a nice summer read where God can show off the power of His mercy and forgiveness then "Five Miles South of Peculiar" is the book for you.
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Glass Road Public Relations for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The sisters unite and everything changes! This was an interesting book and I really enjoyed the story. The book itself is long but the development of the characters keeps you reading.
Carlene, Magnolia and Darlene are the three main characters the book follows. The interaction of these sisters makes for a great story. Each sister has their own issues they are currently dealing with. How they handle their unique situations and how they interact with each other makes the story charming. The minor characters are also interesting but some of them could have been left out and it would not have hurt the story.
I only gave this book 4/5 stars because I found parts of the story really dragged along. I did like the relationships of the sisters and how they develop and change over the course of the book. If some of the less important sections of the story had been cut I would have enjoyed the story even more.
I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for the copy of this book I enjoyed reading. I gave an honest review based on my opinion of what I read.
Magnolia Caldwell lives in the family estate of Sycamores, located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar, in Jackson County, Florida. Nolie lives with her sister, Darlene, and two large dogs, and is pretty satisfied with her life but there are changes on the way. The Sycamores estate will soon revert to town ownership, and the homeless and divorced Reverend Eric Payne is offered a room in exchange for maintenance services. More surprising, Darlene's twin sister, Carlene, is about to return home after a throat surgery destroys her singing voice and Broadway career. The twins are about to turn fifty, and Nolie is working with the town mayor to plan the party.
As the story progresses, we find that each of the sisters is hiding a secret. Darlene is jealous of her successful twin, and the sacrifices she made for Carlene. Meanwhile, Carlene is jealous of Darlene's marriage to Griff, and can only bear visiting Sycamores now that Griff has been dead for five years. And Nolie has never quite recovered from being left at the altar many years ago, so spends her time walking her dogs and sewing aprons for all the women in town.
I was initially attracted to Five Miles South of Peculiar by the eccentric title, and because I have enjoyed many of Angela Hunt's books in the past (some more than others). Five Miles South of Peculiar is clearly literary fiction, in that the focus is more on relationships, although the plot includes a little romance. For that reason, I found it quite hard to get in to, as it felt as though I was just waiting for something to happen. There were some issues with clumsy point of view changes, with one passage being clearly from Darlene's viewpoint, then switching to Nolie or Carlene without the usual break to indicate a scene change (although that could have just been a result of the pdf to Kindle conversion).
Once I got into it, I found Five Miles South of Peculiar revealed itself to be an enjoyable and sometimes humorous novel, with twin themes of forgiveness and choices. Nolie shows us that a lot of our happiness in life is around the choices we make, particularly the way we choose to react to things that affect us. While those things can hurt, we have to make the decision to forgive and move on, to be happy.
Thanks to Howard Paperback and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
Angela Hunt has long impressed me as an author who can take seemingly ordinary characters and soon have them feeling like friends and people I genuinely care about. In Five Miles South of Peculiar, she again succeeds at bringing to life the three Caldwell sisters Darlene, Carlene and Magnolia, with their misunderstandings, humorous interactions, and desires to make a difference in the world and be loved for who they are. Although I didn't love this book as much as her Fairlawn Series (that one remains my favourite!), she has offered another strong addition to the contemporary fiction realm, providing a skilfully written story that not only entertains but provides surprisingly deep wisdom as well. Nolie, the youngest Caldwell girl, especially surprised me with her insights into life, and her ability to accept others where they were at while pointing them to God at the same time. Out of all of the characters, she was my favourite, and I found myself practically cheering at the completely deserved and happy ending she experiences (I won't give away more for fear of spoiling the plot). Her sisters are also endearing in their own way, and together the healing and reconciliation these sisters experience make for a moving read.
The end of the book provides a satisfying conclusion for all of the characters, and I found myself pondering the deep treasures hidden throughout the book, the message of forgiveness that permeates this story. Angela Hunt has spun a tale that we can all find hints of ourselves in, and come away the richer for having spent time with the Caldwell sisters.
I highly recommend this novel and award it 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Book has been freely provided courtesy of the publisher, Howard Books, for the purposes of this unbiased review. The opinions provided are my own.