When I read that the daughters would all be descending on their Mom’s home at the ocean, this was not the story I pictured. It’s so much more. The twists and turns of “Slightly South of Simple” by Kristy Woodsen Harvey are remarkable and thoughtfully written. As a designer myself, I loved the way the author wove the world of Ansley’s design business, then took a half turn and wrote the world of lapping ocean waves and sandy beaches just as beautifully. More than the beach atmosphere of the book is the complexity of the women that come to visit their mum, without asking, and all at once.
I had a pretty good idea of what this book would be, judging from the cover, but it surprised me. I instantly disliked the self absorbed Caroline, but she proves that there is room in her heart for her sisters. I felt nothing at all in common with Sloane whose husband is off at war, but near the end I was drawn into her peculiar heartbreak, and the way the family enfolds her in their arms. Emerson who juices a truck load of kale each day, has a secret, and the reader wonders if the sisters will be able to absorb her truth.
Ansley was my favorite character. Perhaps it’s because I identified with her line of work as an interior designer, or maybe it’s her personal story of infertility that had a few very interesting twists of it’s own, having dealt with infertility myself. Maybe it’s the feud with the neighbor next door. Who hasn’t had that crazy neighbor?! Perhaps it’s the love she didn’t want to acknowledge or explore, though he was right there in her peripheral vision at all times. All of these aspects of Ansley, and the unexpected twists in her story made her my favorite character as I read this book.
Perhaps the best part of this book is the sense that these characters are all still there and we can read more about their lives in another book, and then another, and another (I hope!). I look forward to reading more from Kristy Woodson Harvey.