I absolutely adore summer. Leisurely days reserved for lounging by the pool, backyard barbeques with friends, and road trips to visit family. Summer is a time of nostalgia and thus provides the perfect opportunity to revisit favorite titles, once again connecting with beloved characters and exploring sentiments missed in previous readings. Jetta Carleton’s rediscovered classic The Moonflower Vine is my definition of a perfect summer read. Each time I open this title I uncover another reason to love it more. I find myself drawn to this title every year or two and therefore have decided to once again review it here.
The story begins in the mid-twentieth century on a small rural Missouri farm owed by the Soames family. Three of Matthew and Callie’s four grown daughters have returned home for their annual summer visit. The day has been carefully planned and is centered around the blooming of the moonflower vine. Yet even the most carefully laid plans have a way of going askew. As the day goes amiss the story travels half a century back in time beginning with a young Callie and Matthew falling in love. The family’s history is recounted through the various perspectives of the individual members. Each tale is merely one piece of the puzzle and it takes them all to form a complete picture.
Through mere words Jetta Carleton is able to breathe life into both the setting and her characters. Her familiarity with the area is demonstrated through vivid descriptions that capture the beauty of the scenery. The strong, yet fallible, characters are authentic and immediately come across as acquaintances. Each character is carrying some secret which are revealed at a leisurely pace. Through these secrets and the accompanied choices and consequences the complexity of human emotion is explored. As the story progresses the impact of each individual’s actions, both for better and for worse, play a role in the shaping the lives of those surrounding them and we begin to see how the decisions of one impact the entire family.
This story can be enjoyed as a deceptively simple family saga or one can choose to peel back the layers to reveal the complex dynamics of family life. This title covers the timeless themes of woman’s suffrage, religion, and small-town living. This is a tale of love and loss. It captures both absolute joy and complete and utter sadness. It is a deeply intimate and moving story that lingers long after the cover is closed.
Here are a few other favorite titles (along with links to the reviews) I would love to revisit:
Historical fiction: The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Nonfiction: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Newly released Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
No Review yet but look for one next month!
Gothic fiction: TheThirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Realistic fiction: StillAlice by Lisa Genova
Have a favorite title you could read time and time again? Please do share!!!