Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Seaside Harmony by Evangeline Kelly

Seaside Harmony by Evangeline Kelly is the first of three books in the new Postcard from Misty Harbor Inn series. In this first novel, the reader is introduced to three sisters and their dream of owning a bread and breakfast: Caroline, the oldest sister (aged 61), Sam, the middle sister and Gracie, the youngest (52 years old).  Each of the sisters is vastly different in personality and lifestyle.  Caroline is the oldest, yet is a free spirit, never having had married, spending her life traveling. Yet, despite her age and life experience abroad, she is surprisingly naïve as she had never considered marriage with her life long "friend", George, who she had known for thirty years. Gracie is depicted as a lonely widow, sensible, dependable and devoted to family, who lives life through her grown children and grandchildren. Sam is considered the peacekeeper or mediator between the two sisters.  She divorced shortly after marriage and raised her only daughter as a single mom.  The three sisters  start a new life together in purchasing and renovating an old piece of property and with the goal of transforming it into an Inn in Nantucket.  Each sister has her own personal battles  with eachother as well as their own lives- in addition to the complexities of purchasing an investment property in Nantucket.  There is also a mystery to solve concerning one of the original residents who disappeared from the inn.  The sisters  find themselves lured by local tales of intrigue and speculation which lead them to investigate  into the history of the house.  The old inn is a treasure house of antiques, trinkets and there is even an old antique car and grand piano left behind from the original owners to boot!  The sisters find old artifacts including mysterious postcards hidden within the seams of an old porcelain doll's dress. History buffs, antique collectors and mystery fans will be intrigued by the plot.

Having had read books two and three in the series first, I found that this first book provided valuable insight into the personalities and backgrounds of the three sisters.  The second two novels were faster paced and more action packed.  This novel was a bit slow to start, in fact the sisters don't actually close on the purchase of the inn until two thirds into the book.  Most of the novel is staging the backdrop for the series,  exploring each of the sisters' unique personalities and the emotions involved in investing into an inn.  Many readers will appreciate the emotional and financial considerations each of the sisters faced when facing their own life transitions such as career change, retirement, moving or widowhood. 

Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn is an entertaining, yet wholesome series that is NOT Amish and NOT a  romance novel.  This series earns the designation "Christian" because of the brief yet notable passing references to God, and natural beauty and church.  Nevertheless, even non religious readers will enjoy this book as it is not "preachy".  Evangeline Kelly is actually a pen name for a team of women that authored the new series: Patti Berg, Pam Andrews, Barbara Hanson and Camy Tang.  The writing is enjoyable and  well written-  offensive slang writing and individual eccentricities or opinions do not interfere or detract from the writing as is often case in books authored bymany  modern writers. 

It is refreshing to read a that breaks free from the stereotypical young, beautiful heroine whose life's only mission is to snag a husband.  Social norms are challenged and reworked.  Based on the book market one might conclude that all readers are in their young twenties looking for their first love!  Yet this book series, and its main characters, three middle aged sisters,  will have a wider appeal to include an often overlooked group of readers that is often alienated. Rather than the too often used naïve 19 year old young Amish girl looking to marry for the first time, or the young widowed 24 year old woman in the old West, pursuing a weathered cowboy on a horse, pondering remarriage, this book is not focused on marriage or romance or young beautiful heroines.  In fact the author portrays the three middle aged sisters with respect and dignity, capable of being fashionable, independent and adventurous whereas society all too often confines such demographic groups to the limited the role of a spinster. 

  I happened to win a copy of the book Sunflower Summer through Litfuse publicity,  published by Guideposts publishers. After reading this second book, I just had to read the first!

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