The Books of Summer: Week Three

Today’s post by New York Times Bestselling author, Karen White | @KarenWhiteWrite

We’re at the midpoint in our Books of Summer series and we can’t think of a better author to anchor this five week journey than Karen White. She’s bright, funny, prolific, and truly one of the kindest authors you’ll ever meet. She also happens to be a fantastic writer. Karen opened her home to Marybeth and I on a trip to Atlanta earlier this year and I will forever be grateful for her hospitality. We’re certain that you will adore her new novel, A LONG TIME GONE. And as we have each week so far, we not only have Karen’s novel up for grabs today, but all of our Books of Summer. (See the entry form below for details.) There’s still plenty of time to enter our giveaways for Week One and Week Two.

The Books of Summer Collage

Karen White

Karen White

The Most Southern Place on Earth

I spent my entire childhood feeling homeless.   I always had a nice home with a bedroom of my own (although I had to share a bathroom with my three brothers—something from which I have not yet fully recovered), but I never had a hometown because of my father’s job that had us moving often.  We lived in London, England for seven years, so it wasn’t really a hardship.  But I always felt that being without a hometown was.

My mother was born in a small town in the Mississippi Delta.  She lived around the corner from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and numerous cousins.  The small house on West Augusta Street, with its two bedrooms and one bath was the home my mother was born in and where my grandmother lived all of her married life and where she raised her five daughters and one son.

Wherever we were in the world, my summer vacation was never really complete unless I spent time in Indianola.  There wasn’t much there, even back then.  But it was a place where I could kick off my shoes with my cousins and run around town where people would know me as “Catherine Anne’s girl.”

It would be hotter than Hades, and the mosquitoes and chiggers would eat me alive, but I loved it.  They call the Mississippi Delta the most “Southern place on earth.”  It’s a place of flat, fertile fields filled with cotton in the summer time, and succulent food.  People talk more slowly, drive more slowly.  Children use the words “ma’am” and “sir”.

My grandmother’s house overflowed with family photographs.  In a place of honor was a framed newspaper clipping from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not from 1934.  It’s a photograph of six generations of women in my family—and my mother is the baby held in my grandmother’s arms (although the name is incorrectly attributed to be my mother’s cousin Rosemary—a family scandal!).

Ripleys

I would spend hours sitting under my grandmother’s kitchen table listening to my mother and grandmother and four aunts doing their Southern sister girl talk.  Those are the voices I still hear when creating the strong Southern women in my books.

I suppose it was inevitable that I would set a story about mothers and daughters in the Delta.  A LONG TIME GONE is about three generations of women who are destined to leave their Delta cotton farm, but whatever drives them away is never stronger than the pull of what brings them back.  Add to that the body of a woman buried in the roots of a cypress tree, the historic Mississippi River flood of 1927, a daughter struggling with her mother’s descent into Alzheimer’s, and a love story twenty years in the making, and I knew I had book.

Through my writing I’ve discovered that home isn’t a geographical place.  It’s a place where your people are.  It’s a place where you can sit under an old Formica kitchen table and know that you are surrounded by love.

* * *

A Long Time Gone“We Walker women were born screaming into this world, the beginning of a lifelong quest to find what would quiet us. But whatever drove us away was never stronger than the pull of what brought us back….” 

When Vivien Walker left her home in the Mississippi Delta, she swore never to go back, as generations of the women in her family had. But in the spring, nine years to the day since she’d left, that’s exactly what happens—Vivien returns, fleeing from a broken marriage and her lost dreams for children.

What she hopes to find is solace with “Bootsie,” her dear grandmother who raised her, a Walker woman with a knack for making everything all right. But instead she finds that her grandmother has died and that her estranged mother is drifting further away from her memories. Now Vivien is forced into the unexpected role of caretaker, challenging her personal quest to find the girl she herself once was.

But for Vivien things change in ways she cannot imagine when a violent storm reveals the remains of a long-dead woman buried near the Walker home, not far from the cypress swamp that is soon to give up its ghosts. Vivien knows there is now only one way to rediscover herself—by uncovering the secrets of her family and breaking the cycle of loss that has haunted them for generations.

* * *

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About Ariel Lawhon

Ariel Lawhon is co-founder of the popular online book club, She Reads, a novelist, blogger, and life-long reader. She lives in the rolling hills outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Her novel, THE WIFE THE MAID AND THE MISTRESS, will be published in January 2014 by Doubleday. Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.

89 Responses to The Books of Summer: Week Three

  1. Seaside Book Nook June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read a Karen white novel, so I hope I win. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Marsha June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve never read a Karen White book, but this one has me curious. It draws me to it! My Grandmother was from Mississippi. I spent one Summer month visiting with her mother in Mississippi (My Great Grandmother) and just the quick introduction pulls me back to my visit! Pictures on the WALLS, tons of cousins living on the same street, fields of cotton and the slow pace of life. Oh how I would love to go back there and perhaps through a book!

  3. Ann Bresnan June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love Karen White’s books! Would be great to win :)

  4. Gwyn June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    This sounds like a another great summer read, thanks!!

  5. Becky June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks for the awesome summer giveaway- how fun!

  6. Paula Caurro June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Karen White is one of my favorite authors!

  7. Debbie D June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love Karen White’s books. They are all great!

  8. Jennifer T June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Definitely on my to read list!

  9. Karen White June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Marsha—writing this book took me back in time to those slow summer days spent in Indianola. I’m in the Delta now (Greenwood and Jackson) on book tour and I’m getting all nostalgic!

  10. Amie Powell June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love books by Karen White, but my favorite is her Tradd Street series with Mellie and Jack!

  11. Amie Powell June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love all of Karen White’s books, but my favorite are her Tradd Street series with Mellie and Jack!

  12. Sharon Timmer June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I would love to win these & since I already have Karen White’s book I would pass on to my friend Cheryl who also loves to read

  13. Johnna June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love Karen White’s books…love the Tradd series, The Memory of Water, The Color of Light. Actually, I like them all!

  14. stephanie June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    love Karen white! I read the Glass Kitchen as a goodreads first reads book-loved it except for the fact that it made me hungry! the pink suit looks really interesting.

  15. Peggy D June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I think The Lost Hours is my favorite of Karen’s books. That was my first and probably why it’s my favorite.

  16. Kimberly Absher June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love all of Karen’s books but the Tradd Street series is my favorite thus far. Thanks for the opportunity!

  17. Leslie Greer June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have read The Color of Light by Karen White. I read the book because it is set in Pawley’s Island, SC. As a child, we spent our summer vacation at Pawley’s Island. This place holds precious memories for me. I really enjoyed the book, the plot and characters. I really felt like I was at PI as Karen mentioned specific street names. If you have not read one of her books, I highly recommend this one.

  18. Carl June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I haven’t read any of Karen’s other books yet but I’d love to get a copy of A Long Time Gone as well as The Glass Kitchen, and The Unexpected Waltz. Thanks!

  19. Susan Schleicher June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read any books by Karen. I sure want to though. Thanks for the chance!!

  20. Nancy Pate June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’ve enjoyed reading Karen’s books for years and I was delighted to finally meet her at the Edisto Bookstore last year. The lowcountry is my home territory, and Karen writes about it beautifully.

  21. Gina June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Summer, a teacher’s favorite time of year especially if you are an English teacher! Looking forward to reading all of these great books!!

  22. Linda Lukachek June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have read all of Karen White’s books. I love them all. I wish I was raised in the South!

  23. Katherine Jones June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’m about 3 chapters away from finishing this book and have savored every page of it.

  24. Julie June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have read all of Karen White’s books ! I especially love the Tradd Street books <3

  25. Karen Brown June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I LOVE Karen White’s books! I have read most of them but I think my favorites are the Tradd Street Series.

  26. Lisa Kistler June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I haven’t read any yet but want to read the Tradd Street books. I’ve only heard good things!

  27. Jessica Asbell June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have read almost all of Karen White’s novel and I have loved every single one! A Long Time Gone might just be my favorite. I cannot wait for her next book!

  28. Tracy D. June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I would be thrilled to win this book. I love Karen White’s books. I grew up in the south, but live in New England now, so it’s so nice to go back to the south in her books.

  29. BookClubCheerleader June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I LOVED On Folly Beach–looking forward to reading this one! Thanks, Ariel for bringing it to my attention. Cheers!

  30. Judy June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have read Karen White’s books and have met her at the Hall Book Exchange. Too hard to pick a favorite. Can’t wait to read another one!

  31. Annette Herbst June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Ive read all of Karen’s books and I can’t even begin to pick a favorite

  32. Laura P Bryant June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have not read any of K. White’s books but I am so anxious to. I would love A Long Time Gone to be my first. :-)

  33. Kimberly V June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I haven’t yet read any of Karen’s books. I need to get on that.

  34. Bonnie K. June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I’m sad to say that I haven’t read any of her novels–many of them are eye-catching. I will want to read them.

  35. Mary Gillespie June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have read all of Karen White’s books since my sister gave me my first one and Dee gave me my second one. I love the stories and the varied characters. I love seeing wonderful women I know memorialized in some stories. I would be hard-pressed to choose a favorite. Karen’s work is so darn enjoyable. Her stories got me through some rough times.

  36. Paula Dolin June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Adding this one to my wish list! Thanks for a chance to win!

  37. Karen White June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks so much, Mary. Knowing that my words have somehow helped you get through difficult times is the biggest compliment for a writer.

  38. Kathy Clevenger June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Asking me to narrow down all of Karen White’s books to pick a favorite is like asking me to pick which of my children is my favorite. Impossible! But if forced to, it would have to be The Memory of Water.

  39. Lisa June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    My first Karen White book was given to me as a present from my best friend. The book was “House on Tradd Street”. Since then I have read ALL of her books except her new one “A Long Time Gone” I have purchased it and plan on reading it over my holiday at the beach. All of her books are my Favorite!!! I can’t pick just one!

  40. Amanda Beachum June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Karen White is one of my favorite authors. I especially love the Tradd Street series! Thanks for the profile piece. :)

  41. Karen White June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Thanks to all of you astute and obviously very intelligent readers for your very kind words about my books! I love being a favorite “anything” but especially somebody’s favorite author. Y’all ROCK!!

  42. Vicki June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Somehow I’ve managed to miss all of Karen White books. They do look interesting so I’ll be adding some to my list.

  43. Brooke June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Loving these summer read suggestions! Can’t wait to read them all and that is what I am doing now! Karen White’s is the first and I am enjoying immensely! Would love to win! Thanks for the opportunity!

  44. Donna Ingalls June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Just loved House on Tradd Street. It’s a Lowcountry favorite

  45. Lisa Ramsay June 19, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Can’t wait to read the latest from Karen White.

  46. Becky in Georgia June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    My favorite is Beach Trees!

  47. Kandra June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Karen is a new author to me but I am looking forward to enjoying her books.

  48. Britney Adams June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I love ALL of Karen’s novels and can’t wait to get my hands on her newest release! Thank you so much for the chance to be a winner in this fabulous giveaway!

  49. Kawena June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have not read a Karen White book, but I would love to!

  50. Robin June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    These books sound like a summer dream..love summer reads…nothing better than getting lost in one!
    Thanks for the opportunity…ready for a summer dream!

  51. Krista June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Love Karen White. Would love to win!

  52. Gram June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    This sounds like a great read. Thanks.

  53. Rebecca Booth June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I read THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET!

  54. lana June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Karen White….one of my favorite writers inspired by southern roots!

  55. Margaret Utsey June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I love all the books but especially love the Charleston mystery quartet! I can’t wait to read the newest one!

  56. GinaD June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have not read any of Karen’s books, which is a reason I follow SheReads – so I can read your interviews & reviews and find new authors!

  57. Jennifer Huelsebusch June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I love Karen’s books! My favorite books of all time are her Tradd Street series! I have passed the books on to my mom, sister, friends, and colleagues and everyone loves them! A bunch of us are going to meet her in St Louis next and are really excited! Now if we could just get another Tradd Street book…….

  58. Karen white June 19, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Jennifer–looking forward to meeting you in St Louis! I’ll have some exciting news about the Tradd Street series to share with you.

  59. Susan Gruener June 20, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Can’t wait to get my hands on these books! I loved reading the excerpt for “A Long Time Gone”! What a treat!
    Thanks She Reads!

  60. Lori G June 20, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have read all of Karen’s books and it is so hard to narrow down the list to just one so I would say the Tradd Street series. I love the ghostly element added to the stories along with Melanie and Jack’s love story!

  61. Denise Baer June 20, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I love On Folly Beach by Karen White. I’m still collecting bottles for my bottle tree.

  62. Leslie June 20, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I haven’t read any of Karen White’s novels yet. Hoping for a chance to win one here.

  63. Karen White June 20, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Demise–I wish I had a dollar for every bottle tree inspired by ON FOLLY BEACH!! ;-)

  64. Michelle June 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Another great pick to add to the list!

  65. Joy June 20, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I liked “House on Tradd Street” the best!

  66. YvonneJ June 21, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    The House on Tradd Street is my favorite.

  67. Nise' June 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve read all of her books and love the Tradd Street series.

  68. katherine laurie June 23, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    I have been a long-time fan of Karen White and as a GRITS myself (Girl Raised in the South), I have lived so many of these mosquito, pine-tree moments. Her new book is next on my list!

  69. jackie folck June 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I love the Tradd St series. Just met Karen tonight at a book signing. I can’t wait to read her other books.

  70. Karen White June 23, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Jackie–it was so great meeting you. Thanks so much for coming and happy reading!

  71. Melinda June 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read any of Karen White’s books yet…but I’d love to!

  72. Tina June 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for the chance to win! I haven’t read any of her books yet!

  73. Carol June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Love Summer Reading Books… these look like a lot of fun!

  74. marian June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read any yet, but they’re very popular at the library and I have liked similar authors, so I just might have to pick one up.

  75. Theresa June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    OH MY GOSH – this looks like a GREAT book too!!!! I would LOVE TO WIN A COPY!!!!!

  76. michelle h June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    new to Karen, always love to find a new favorite author!

  77. Joyce Elling June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have never read a Karen White book. This one sounds like my type of story. I look forward to reading it.

  78. Darlene June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    So great to win. Would love some new authors.

  79. brooke June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I don’t think that I’ve ever read one of her books, but I would LOVE to! Thanks for the giveaway!

  80. Velma Hunsucker June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    No, I have never read any of Karen White’s novels, but I would love to.

  81. Lisa S June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I have never read a Karen White novel before, but this book sounds fantastic!!! Thanks for the giveaway!

  82. Susan G. June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Chocolate doesn’t even come close to a good book!
    Thanks She Reads!

  83. Linda Kish June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I haven’t read any of Karen’s books yet. I guess I’d better start.

  84. Betty Apsley June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I’ve read a couple of Karen White and love her Southern take on things and her beach/Low Country settings. I hope I win!

  85. Beth June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Would love to win this book!

  86. Connie Saunders June 26, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Karen is one of the most popular authors at our public library.

  87. Karen White June 26, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks, Connie! Which library?

  88. Connie Saunders June 26, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Fleming County Public Library in Flemingsburg, KY. I retired Jan. 1 after 22 1/2 years and 20 years as cataloger. We started adding your books to our collection a few years ago.

  89. Karen White June 26, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    Thanks for your reply, Connie!

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