Flight PatternsFlight Patterns by Karen White
Published by NAL
Review copy provided by Netgalley

From the publisher:

Georgia Chambers has spent her life sifting through other people’s pasts while trying to forget her own. But then her work as an expert of fine china—especially of Limoges—requires her to return to the one place she swore she’d never revisit…

It’s been thirteen years since Georgia left her family home on the coast of Florida, and nothing much has changed, except that there are fewer oysters and more tourists. She finds solace seeing her grandfather still toiling away in the apiary where she spent much of her childhood, but encountering her estranged mother and sister leaves her rattled. 

Seeing them after all this time makes Georgia realize that something has been missing—and unless she finds a way to heal these rifts, she will forever be living vicariously through other people’s remnants. To embrace her own life—mistakes and all—she will have to find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past and the secrets she was forced to keep…

I am a Karen White fangirl. I love her Tradd Street series, have read and loved several of her standalone novels, and when I met her at SIBA a couple of years back (and got to have dinner with her!) I almost lost my mind. Although I haven’t read any of her recent novels, she’s one of those authors I’ll always go back to for comfort reading. Flight Patterns was a comfortable, enjoyable read, which is what I expected, but I have to admit that it wasn’t one of my favorite of her novels. I liked the book enough, but it didn’t exactly wow me.

There is a lot to appreciate about this book. Georgia is the kind of character the reader really wants to root for – she’s clearly made some mistakes in her life, and is running from something in her past, yet the reader can feel that she’s tried to atone for whatever it is she’s done wrong. It’s obvious that she’s tried and succeeded to make something of her life, something beyond the life that she left behind all those years ago. When Georgia’s mother, Birdie, comes onto the scene it’s apparent that she is at least part of Georgia’s issues, and at least some of the reason why Georgia left her hometown.

Maisy, Georgia’s sister, does not come across as the kind of character that the reader can easily like. She’s prickly and everything she says seems to be a deliberate jab at Georgia. She obviously doesn’t want Georgia around and makes that crystal clear by what she says and does anytime Georgia comes near her. It was difficult to read about this relationship between sisters that was SO strained, but there is some growth to their relationship throughout the book, which was nice to read about and made me come around to Maisy a bit.

Most of White’s books have some kind of romantic intrigue happening, and this book was no different, although it took quite a bit of time to get there. I liked what she did with the romantic elements of the book, but I would have appreciated a little more of it and slightly earlier in the story, too.

What I didn’t love about the book were two major things. One was simply that it felt too long. It felt, to me, that White could have told the exact same story perhaps even a bit better with 50-100 fewer pages. At a certain point, I felt bogged down with too many details, things moving too slowly, and I almost felt bored. The other thing I disliked about Flight Patterns was that there were a few secrets that needed to be uncovered, a few from just the reader and a few from the characters. The major one that was supposed to be a big reveal to the reader was obvious from the very beginning, and that annoyed me. If I was supposed to be surprised by it, I most definitely was not. The other big reveals were less obvious, but still easy to figure out, and maybe not as “big” as to cause the huge repercussions that they caused.

So, Flight Patterns. I liked you but didn’t fall in love with you. Karen White is still an author I can depend upon to deliver sweet, comfortable stories of women finding themselves amidst family drama and sometimes ghosts, and I will continue to seek out her novels. Especially those Tradd Street novels – are there more? Or perhaps another mystery series in development? I’d take some of that, please.