Readers' Favorite

July 5, 2024

Intriguing Characters + Beautiful Descriptions = A Great Southern Fiction Beach Read

by Susan Roberts

A tender and touching novel about a young woman who discovers the family she has always longed for when she spends a life-changing summer in North Carolina.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of southern fiction novel A Happier Life by Kristy Woodson Harvey
June 2024; Gallery Books; 978-1668012192
audio, ebook, print (384 pages); southern fiction

Every time I read a new book by Kristy Woodson Harvey, it becomes my new favorite.  I think that her newest book A Happier Life will remain my favorite even after she publishes new books.  This book is a look at life in the South in a small town full of nosey neighbors along with strong women who live their lives to the fullest.

It has a bit of a mystery, a little romance, and a cast full of intriguing characters plus beautiful descriptions of Beaufort, North Carolina.  

Keaton has a major problem with her job in NYC and decides to quit.  She's at a loss of what to do with her life so when her mother asks her to go to Beaufort to get her grandparent's home ready to be sold, she jumps at the chance.  Keaton has never met her grandparents because they died in a car accident before she was born.  She expects to find an empty house that just needs some work and is amazed when she walks into a house that is exactly like it was when her grandparents died 50 years earlier.  There are still dishes on the table and a newspaper on the couch.  When she finds her grandmother's Guide to Entertaining dated 1976 and her grandfather's journals, she realizes she now has a way to learn more about her grandparents and the life they lived.

In 1976, Becks was considered the best hostess in her small town.  She had walked away from her past when she fell in love with her husband and her main goal in life was to entertain people and help them relax.  But this summer, she is hiding something from her husband and her friends that will change her life as she now lives it.

I loved the way both women were treated by the people in Beaufort during their time there.  Even though they both lived in different time periods, they were strong and resilient women.  The more Keaton learned about her grandmother, the more confident she became about her personal life goals.  The author states "But maybe most of all, A HAPPIER LIFE is a testament to the ways in which discovering where we came from is so often the next step on the path to finding where we were always meant to be. I hope that it makes you think just a little about where you are meant to be as well."

The setting in Beaufort, North Carolina is so well described that I'm ready to pack a suitcase and head back to Beaufort again to enjoy some of its small-town ambiance -- plus its great seafood!  Have your calendar clear before you start this book because once you start it and meet all of the wonderful characters, you won't want to put it down until the last page.  Be sure to read Kristy's Acknowledgements at the end to learn a little bit about her life in Beaufort.

Buy A Happier Life at Amazon

I included this book in my list of beach reads earlier this year so if you need more recommendations, be sure to check it out.

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.   

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