The New York Times bestselling author of A Long Time Gone now explores a Southern family’s buried history, which will change the life of the woman who unearths it, secret by shattering secret.
It has been two years since the death of Merritt Heyward’s husband, Cal, when she receives unexpected news—Cal’s family home in Beaufort, South Carolina, bequeathed by Cal’s reclusive grandmother, now belongs to Merritt.
Charting the course of an uncertain life—and feeling guilt from her husband’s tragic death—Merritt travels from her home in Maine to Beaufort, where the secrets of Cal’s unspoken-of past reside among the pluff mud and jasmine of the ancestral Heyward home on the Bluff. This unknown legacy, now Merritt’s, will change and define her as she navigates her new life—a new life complicated by the arrival of her too young stepmother and ten-year-old half-brother.
Soon, in this house of strangers, Merritt is forced into unraveling the Heyward family past as she faces her own fears and finds the healing she needs in the salt air of the Low Country.
Sissy: So this was such a complex story that halfway through I had to retrace my steps to make sure I was clear on who was who and what was what and what time period we were talking about. This book spans many decades and several generations. Those generations share some dark things such as abuse and long held secrets. But once I got into it (translation: the cobwebs cleared and all the characters figured out) I absolutely loved this intricate tale.
Bubby: I agree with Sissy. I too had to go back and re-read the first chapter several times, when new information came to light. There is one key event that ties this whole novel together – a plane crash late one night in 1950-something over Beaufort, South Carolina. One event on one night and the lives of all these characters are changed, and the lives of their children and even grandchildren too. My favorite two characters are Loralee and Owen (who has renamed himself Rocky), Merritt’s estranged stepmother and half-brother. Owen is just the sweetest thing ever and Loralee is the very definition of grace under fire. She is constantly writing down little gems of advice in her pink journal for Owen to read later and most of it is very good advice for anyone, like “There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.”
Sissy: I have to say, I do adore me some good Southern fiction. The character Loralee is as Southern as sweet tea on the front porch in July. The setting of Beaufort, South Carolina is perfect and even made better by the atmospheric family mansion where Merritt, Loralee and Owen live.
Bubby: And don’t forget the smell of the pluff mud! I’ve read about this uniquely Carolinian substance (and odor) a few times and I want to take a trip east just to see and smell it! Let’s go–
We’ll find a spa that gives pluff mud facials!
(not Bubby and Sissy…)
Sissy: What if it ends up smelling like dirty teenage boy socks at the bottom of the hamper? Then what?
Bubby: Then we wash it off and go sit on the porch of our coastal bed and breakfast and drink sweet tea and mint juleps and eat hushpuppies!
Sissy: All the Southern people are annoyed at you right now.
Bubby: You done did start the cliche-ing!
Sissy: Let’s get back to Karen White’s excellent story telling. There is so much imaginative detail in The Sound of Glass. Edith’s side job of forensic crime scene model making, the sea glass wind chimes that remind us that fragile things get stronger the more they are tested, the decades old murder mystery that weaves together the lives of Edith, Merritt, Loralee and Gibbs; all these things help to tell such a deep and compelling story. There are books galore to be read, but only rarely do I feel as deeply satisfied at the completion of one as I did with The Sound of Glass by Karen White.
Bubby: My favorite moment in The Sound of Glass was when I finally put all the pieces together. I threw my kindle in the air and shouted “aha!” (actually what I really said was more like ______ ___ __ the plane!” but that would be a spoiler, so…). My children thought I was having a seizure. Suffice it to say you will enjoy reading every word of the 400+ pages of Karen White’s wonderful novel!
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