I received this book as a Christmas gift, and I loved it!
It’s about race, about “passing”, about identity and community. The very pretty twin Vignes sisters are identical, and can “pass” for white, but their daughters are opposites, one dark skinned and the other light.
With its detailed portrayal of a small town and its complex, well developed characters (male as well as female), The Vanishing Half reminded me of Marilynne Robinson and her four-book Gilead series, some of the best literary fiction I have ever read.
So far I’ve read two of these novels. I wasn’t at all certain that anything from the “cozy mystery” genre would work for me, but these books are great. Yes, chick lit. Yes, beach reading. Intelligent, lively beach reading!
To clarify, Darling is an imaginary small town in southern Alabama. The Darling Dahlias is a garden club with 12 members of varied ages. The series starts at the beginning of the Great Depression. Times are hard, and no one knows if improvement can be expected.
The Dahlias face a variety of (predictable) challenges and the occasional disruption of their quiet town by murder, embezzlement and organized crime. The local, two-person police force can’t always resolve these issues, but the Dahlias, thinking “outside the box” and using unconventional methods, have remarkable success. At the same time, they have fun and revel in mutual support. Darling is the (imaginary) small town we all wish we could live in!