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Beyond the Bougainvillea

Beyond the Bougainvillea is the story of Mary Margaret - a smart, strong, loving, no-nonsense young woman - and how she goes from a motherless childhood and being married at sixteen to an abusive man in North Dakota to living in California's northern half (via Los Angeles).

It is also the story of the people who surround her. Her father, her husband, the Gundersons (neighbors who help her escape to California), Doctor Tom, the Malones (Boots, Annie, & Sue Anne), Nina, Cotton Eeagle, and various other people she comes into contact with along the way.

I started reading the book (a review copy I received from the publisher) not too long before heading to bed, thinking I would read a few pages just to get started, then pick it up again the following evening. That was my intention. What happened was that I finished the book in one sitting and, with a couple of hours before my day usually begins, I figured to catch up on sleep some other time.

I have enjoyed reading all of the books I have read in one way or another and I am glad to have read them all (even the ones that weren't entirely to my personal taste for whatever reason), but the books that I have read that wouldn't let go are not that many. Beyond the Bougainvillea is one of them.

It is a saga, yet is a story that has the feeling of sitting by a cozy fire at the same time. The characters - good, bad, and ugly - are splendidly told and, for the most part, have the feeling of people you might know next door or down the street (some of whom you might want to know better, some of them not so much). It is also a story of making do with what you have and mayhap having it turn into something better.

Great debut read.

(Cross-posted to Librarything, Goodreads,, and Barnes & Noble

The book may be found for purchase at the following locations:
Bell Bridge Books
Barnes and Noble
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Heir To the Everlasting

From "The Pulitzer-nominated author of Earl in the Yellow Shirt turns her acclaimed talents to an epic story of three generations of Southern women at Big Eddy, the home place they love. Heir to the Everlasting begins at the turn of the last century with the beautiful, determined Pinkie Alexander, strong-willed matron of the Alexander clan. Come Hell or the high water of the south Georgia river which gave Big Eddy its name, Pinkie will ensure the survival of her family on their beloved land--a place where the family cemetery guards the spirit of the past, and where secrets, as well as the dearly departed, are buried.

Follow the lives, loves, mysteries, deadly feuds and steely courage of the Alexander women through a full century of joys and sorrows. Heir to the Everlasting showcases the culture, language and daily travails of their time and place with vivid storytelling skills and Janice Daugharty's love for 'the working words.'"

I enjoyed reading Heir to the Everlasting and the glimpse it provided into the lives of the Alexander family. For this reader, the touchstone of the story is Big Eddy, the family plantation, and May Alexander Wetherington is the keystone.

Big Eddy is the touchstone because that is the family "seat" and makes the rest of the story possible. It is the kind of place that embodies the phrase "if only these walls could talk," although, in this case, it's if only the walls and the land could talk. Through the lives of Pinkie (May's grandmother), May and Sara Ann (May's granddaughter), how they carry on and make their lives better - and sometimes worse - and keep their heads up in spite of troubles and tribulations is a story that I believe many readers can relate to.

May Alexander Wetherington is the keystone of the story. While Heir to the Everlasting is as much Pinkie's and Sara Ann's story as it is May's, the book is a tale of her growing up on Big Eddy, growing older, marrying, having children, but always coming back to the family home, and seeing what she can do for her own granddaughter as Pinkie did for her.

The heart of the story is love. Love of family, love of the land, and simply love of life - even if it may be a bygone thing. It is also a story of relationships - how they define us, how we define them, the blind spots they may cause us and how they make us stronger.

A wonderful book that I would recommend to anyone who likes a good story that doesn't necessarily deliver a happy ending, but a fitting one for the tale it tells.

Visit Janice Daughtery's site by clicking

(Cross-posted to Goodreads, Librarything,, and Barnes & Noble)

Available for purchase at the following locations:
Bell Bridge Books
Barnes & Noble


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