Falling Home by Karen White
Published by NAL Trade, an imprint of Penguin
Review copy provided by the publicist
When Cassie Madison was twenty years old, she left her small Georgia hometown for an exciting life in New York City. Now she’s in her early thirties, is at the top of her game career-wise, and engaged to an intelligent, charming man. But a phone call from her sister puts all that on hold – their father is dying, and Cassie must return home for his final days. Cassie and her sister, Harriet, haven’t spoken since Harriet stole Cassie’s fiance and married him – inspiring Cassie to flee to New York. But when she gets to meet her nieces and nephews, spends time with Harriet and all the family members and friends she left behind all those years ago, she starts to question her glamorous New York lifestyle – maybe her new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
I have to admit that I have very high expectations for Karen White – I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by her, and I’ve come to expect excellent, well-developed characters in fun, heartwarming novels. It came as quite a disappointment to me when I didn’t find Falling Home to be as good as her other novels. I still enjoyed the experience of reading it, but I thought it fell short in several areas.
First of all, the novel was just too long. 464 pages is a lot of pages for a “lighter” novel. Not only that, but it didn’t seem to me that White did a whole lot with those pages – the first half really seemed to drag on, and the deeper parts of the book didn’t really start until around the 300 page mark. And the ending, while it packed a huge punch, sort of came out of nowhere – the first half of the book was just too light for what came in the conclusion of the novel.
While I didn’t dislike the characters in this book, I can’t say that they were very complex. Despite all of Cassie’s protesting, it was obvious from the beginning what she would choose to do in the end. I would have liked for her character to not be so transparent. And the rest of the minor characters just seemed incredibly one-dimensional to me. Take Harriet, for example – she was this saintly matriarch, loved by everyone, including Cassie who was still a tiny bit angry at her. If this person stole her sister’s fiance, shouldn’t she be slightly less than perfect? I was thinking that, but her character in the novel was just about as perfect as a person can get. And other characters followed this pattern as well – just being too predictable, not human enough.
Despite all of this, I did enjoy the novel. I certainly didn’t love it, but for any fan of women’s fiction, Falling Home isn’t a bad choice. Karen White, although she disappointed me with this novel, is still a winner in my book.