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Gone South by Meg Moseley


About the Book:
Author: Meg Moseley
Publisher: Multnomah
Publication Date: 2013
Genre: Fiction; Contemporary
Rating: 3 ½ out of 5

I must confess the draw to this book was its cover art – the quirkiness of it was appealing. Beyond that, obviously I thought the story sounded full of promise and one or two rave reviews later and, voilà curiosity was stirred. Never having read anything by Meg Moseley before, how the story would read was a mystery. Over the three person point of view that unfolds, there are interesting perspectives and even more unique characters. There’s brokenhearted Tish whose past is all about “hanging on” to what could-have-been; antiques dealer George, a man with a very miniature nuisance and the adorable though immature Melanie (yes, you guessed it, her mother is a Gone with the Wind fan!) – a young woman shunned for past indiscretions. 3o chapters and 300-hundred-some pages later, all of the characters were fully explored, as individuals. In fact, it’s probably been a long while since I read a novel in which there was more than a boy-girl switch off that elected for such an easy-going multi-view POV prose; the changes transition smoothly, almost seamlessly from one voice to the next and it was a fun trip down South to meet them all.

Reminding me a lot of a favorite television show, the setting is very “small-town” and sometimes it sets up as being old-fashioned (with only the most charming results) since each of the three main characters are struggling with the past in some way or another. Setting aside Meg’s sensitive and soft narratives, she also expertly wove into the story some fascinating historical lessons – all of which are actually inspiring in one way or another. Changing the past is not something Tish is capable of doing and yet for years she lived cocooned in the safety of a past. Once she learns that her family name is shadowed in scandal, only then does she ever so slowly emerge from the safety of that net – from being shunned for the sins of ancestors, she came into her own learning that while reality (the here and now) is not perfect, it’s what you make of it that carves out a chance at happiness. The sweetness between Tish and Melanie – or “Mel,” is a precious relationship. Meg does a stupendous job with it. Full of flaws and disagreements, the scenes of them together bond as that of a sister’s love and it sees all the highs and lows such a relationship experiences; there’s screaming fights (the older sister represented in Tish) and at the end of the day, always love and protection. Likewise Mel’s struggle becomes more real and easy to accept where once the reader was only skeptical.    
                           
Anyone searching for a romance will be disappointed. George and Tish may be interesting as single characters (not many guys can still seem “cool” while carrying around a small dog – in fact it's usually a turn-off) however as a romantic counterpart, I didn’t really enjoy he and Tish together. Sure both are likable and his affection for her seemed genuine but the sparks just weren’t there. One scene opens possibilities but beyond that, it’s pretty empty...

The spiritual takeaway is rather tepid. Other than a mention or two of finding a church and Mel’s childlike whispered prayers, I never felt the pull of Christianity.  Sometimes, this doesn't bother me depending on the setting or characters, other times it does. In this case, I wanted more from Tish and George's - more for their spiritual well-being, because I think they deserved that.

Pacing was duller than not until approximately 1/3 of the way through the book.
 
Given the focus and impressive “voices” of the characters, perhaps there is enough content to distract from the flaws. True to the Southern lifestyles, the novel started out slowly, taking its sweet time to pull everyone together. Until it does, it isn’t a page-turner because we counted on “more.” Once everyone meets, things start to pick up and we pick sides – choosing who we trust and finding out not everyone is as forgiving as they should be. Second chances and a definite flow of all things Southern is what Gone South is all about. Where it might not have been my favorite novel of the year, it's got some really nice moments and I've read some glowing reviews of the book. Bravo to Meg Mosley for skirting around some of the “obvious” clichés and taking chances of her own.

Coming Next: When Laura Gantt returns to Georgia to handle her late mother's estate, she hears a startling rumor---that her father staged his drowning years ago and has recently been spotted roaming the mountains.

With the help of her former high school sweetheart, Laura searches for the truth. But will what they find destroy their rekindled feelings?
 
 - Goodreads

Synopsis: Leaving frosty Michigan for the Deep South was never a blip in the simple plans Tish McComb imagined for her life, dreams of marriage and family that were dashed five years earlier in a tragic accident. Now an opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents’ Civil War era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word. She wonders if God has given her a new dream— the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.

When Tish discovers that McCombs aren’t welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines. Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance. What’s a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble’s resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.

Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways. With Melanie blocked from going home, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love and forgiveness.
 - Gooreads

With thanks to Blogging for Books and the publisher for providing a complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes
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12 comments:

  1. Sounds ok.
    But your next one sounds intriguing. :)

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    1. I liked the setting, Juju and the characters as individuals rather than romantic partners. Melanie was an interesting young lady and while I didn't NOT like the couple together (Tish and George), I didn't really buy their feelings. His seemed more genuine than hers.

      'Chimes' does sound interesting. Perhaps I'll give it a shot yet.

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  2. Hmmm...I was really intrigued when I saw the cover of this one a few weeks ago but it seems like the plot line might not be what was expected. Great review Rissi!

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    1. This cover is adorable! Loved it - and that it's actually part of the story. :)

      I've read a lot of books like that also, Lydia. The plot suggests one thing and the story winds up being something totally different. Thanks for reading! :)

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  3. Ah, that's too bad that you didn't care for it that much! You already know that I loved it quite a lot. :)

    I think the things that you perhaps didn't like about it are some of the things that I DID like about it. I liked how George and Tish's relationships was all bells and whistles. I thought it was a really refreshing balance of sweet relationship and reality, rather than the so-popular drama-and-danger-filled romances that are usually the norm within Christian romances. Not that those aren't appealing in their own right, but I personally found the level of "mild" romance to be quite a nice touch. Plus I don't think that this book is actually marketed AS a romance, hence it's perfectly okay for it to NOT have the typical heavy romance plot. Anyways. :)

    I don't recall the spiritual emphasis being weak, but even that's entirely subject to personal opinion. I personally find most spirituality in Christian novels to be trite and contrived and too "pushed." Like they're trying to make a point but not really putting enough effort into making it work. I don't remember this being the case in Gone South, perhaps because it wasn't forced out like in many books.

    Anyways, at least you gave it a try! My sister and I both loved it. :)

    Speaking of books we love, perhaps are taste in books is wider than we thought - I'm reading Undeniably Yours and sorta struggling through it. Bo's over-the-top love-and-want-to-protect-at-first-sight is a little hard to believe. But either way, I love...oh, I can't remember her name...anyways, the girl. I love her. :)

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    1. Oops!

      I liked how George and Tish's relationships **wasn't** all bells and whistles.

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    2. @kellie you and i have EXACTLY the same taste it seems :-) I wasn't fond of Undeniably Yours--- or Bo--- at all and I loved Gone South for the same reasons you did :-)

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    3. Kellie - I did remember that and am happy you liked this one so well – and your sister, too! :) When a reader finds a book that just “clicks” with them, that endears it as “real.”

      Contrary to what this review may suggest, I don’t mind romances that are more subtle and not all “passionate” or unbelievable (in love at first sight or falling into the break-up from silly misunderstandings). Wish I could think of some now, but… I cannot. George was a great guy and I felt like his feelings were more genuine than Tish’s. Then the ending came and it just wasn’t “enough” to convince me that they should have been together. No, I don’t think this is a romance either – for me, it was more about three people finding their footing and coming into their own without the complications of romantic entanglements. Which is also a great thing and as a result, I liked this book way more as a study in “individual” character than the brief romantic touches.

      …and I did enjoy it. Just didn’t fall in love with it.

      I have mixed opinions on the spirituality in novels. Sometimes I admire its subtly because I think even the smallest thing/phrase could inspire a reaction but of late, I’ve been reading more books with a more prominent Christian messages that seem to be making an impact on me – and it’s been an interesting change. So long as it doesn’t come across as self-righteous, an author has to be admired for putting out a prominent message of faith. At some point we may be asked to stand up (and stand alone) for our beliefs and so if it’s done right, I have to applaud authors for a strong message of faith.

      Aw, sorry you don’t like Bo. :/ I did (you like Ty any better?). I think the romance in Undeniably Yours is more “in summary” than actual conversations or events – and really, their meeting has zero sparks or “cuteness.” His protectiveness of Meg is part of the reason I liked him and her fragility makes it more… feasible.

      Oh, well! No mater our tastes in books, our conversations are fun regardless, and I enjoy each one. :)

      Rachel - you and Kellie are not alone. I think there are a lot of readers who struggle with the romance in UY by Becky Wade. It’s always a nice, sweet relationship in my opinion, but as Kellie says, every element in novels is subject to personal opinion – and thank goodness we don’t all like the same thing! Where’d be the fun in that!? ;)

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    4. Hehe, yes, I love our discussions, too! Quite invigorating, sometimes! :D

      Definitely love your current perspective on spirituality on novels. There have been some novels who's faith emphasis totally riveted and inspired me. Haven't read any of those lately, but I definitely admire that, too. Definitely requires some skill and tact, though, for it to not come across as cliche and overdone.

      Eek, so sorry I implied that you only went for action-packed romances! *slaps hand* I should have proof-read before I commented, definitely didn't mean to put you in a box there!

      As for Ty, must not have met him yet. And haha, you know...despite my aggressive love for anything fairy-tale, I'm also a huge cynic and realist, too...especially when it comes to romance. Which is why I'm having a hard time with Bo. But hey, he's definitely scoring major points by just being hunky-amazing. ;)

      Rachel: if you liked this one, you should also try In Broken Places. It reminded me a lot in style and theme to Gone South.

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    5. Well, conversation is about both arguments: agreeing and disagreeing. Sometimes two people have to "agree to disagree" and so long as it's agreeable (and I respect everyone on these comment threads because we can do that!), I don't ever mind discussing two differing perspectives. Hope I've never offended you in my comments on your blog or anywhere for that matter. If I disagree, that's never my intention. I only ever want to leave my perspective sincerely and respectfully.

      I liked what you said in the earlier comment; each novel/story is subjective to the individual. No matter how good an author is, sometimes the story won't "click" with a reader. That doesn't mean it's bad or the book doesn't have something good to say... it just doesn't connect with us. There does have to be tact for an author not to come across as self-righteous but if it's done with style, it's inspiring.

      Given my love of Hallmark movies, I can admit that I like clichés although I recognize them and have no problem admitting certain stories riddle themselves with all-too-familiar plot threads. ;) Much as I am a romantic (in my choice of movies/books), like you, I have a firm grip on reality. If we believe that life will imitate the movies, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. It's never how things will play out.

      No need to apologize! I probably misinterpreted what I meant to say. When I reply to comments, I have all these thoughts swirling around and then instead of slowing down and taking a moment to think, I type out a reply way too fast! Anyway, I didn't think you were implying that at all. :)

      Ty's not in UY much but he's the hero in book two, so I just wondered if you'd have a favorable impression of him. I think he's going to be a bit of a scoundrel (in the loosest sense of the word) or flirt so it'll be interesting to see who wins his heart! ;)

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  4. I've been wanting to read this one. I, too, was initially attracted by the cover...have to finish a couple other books first, but I'll have to check it out...

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    1. Know how that goes, Melissa! I've got a small but growing TBR stack also. starting to look forward to it now that the most crucial deadline has come and gone. :)

      Hope you enjoy Gone South! :)

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