Tag Archives: southern fiction

“The Darling Dahlias Mysteries” by Susan Wittig Albert.

The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree
The first book in this series of nine novels

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!

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“Porch Lights” by Dorothea Benton Frank

Porch Lights: A Novel

Genre: cozy southern chick lit. What else do I need to say?

This book takes place on a coastal island near Charleston, South Carolina. It’s narrated alternately by a mother and daughter. I found the daughter, Jackie, to be the more sympathetic character. Jackie and her (deceased) husband were professional risk takers – she as an Army nurse (several times deployed to Afghanistan) and he as a New York city firefighter. His tragic death causes Jackie to end her military career in order to care for their ten year old son Charlie.

Jackie takes Charlie to her childhood home on in South Carolina. Her relationship with her (estranged) parents is tense. But all is resolved, Jackie finds a new relationship, and the family lives happily ever after. A bit sentimental, but pleasant. Just the book you want for a rainy afternoon or a pandemic. 

“Moonrise” by Cassandra King

I wasn’t sure whether I had gotten my hands on a mystery or a romance. Moonrise turned out to be a romance, one aimed at the “middle aged” demographic I am starting to outgrow. It’s a novel about attempting a new start. Taking place in the South, it is told from the viewpoints of three women. The protagonist is a forty-something dietician who stumbled into a career as a TV chef and then got passionately involved with a very high powered media mogul. The other two woman are part of the mogul’s circle of acquaintances, most of whom resent the fact that he remarried precipitously after the accidental death of his wife. It’s all about atmosphere and personality quirks. Enjoy!