Kristy Woodson Harvey’s second novel in her acclaimed Peachtree Bluff series about a widowed mother and her three daughters,The Secret to Southern Charm, was not at all the chic-lit novel I expected. Instead, it was a warm and poignant look at the choices we make in our lives, and the joys and the regrets that follow, but mostly it was a commentary on the lives of our military families, particularly those left behind when a soldier goes missing or is killed in action.
After learning that her husband, Adam, is MIA, Sloane spends weeks in bed, grieving and watching old home videos of their family in happy times. Her faith, and a reminder from her sisters that she has children who need her finally gives her the strength to try to return to a normal life.
Meanwhile, Sloane’s mom, Ansley, has put her own life on hold to care for Sloane’s two boys, as well as her own aging mother. According to Ansley’s mom, the accent is the secret to Southern charm. Sloane disagrees, believing instead, that humility, kindness, and putting on a brave face in times of trouble make up the secret, then decides it isn’t a secret. Women are strong because they have to be.
There are several storylines in this book, as there are in any family. Each of these women makes peace with her choices and accept the challenge of second chances.
After reading The Secret to Southern Charm, I feel compelled to read the first book in the series. Kristy Woodson Harvey will soon rank right up there with well-known Southern writers, Mary Alice Monroe and Dorothea Benton Frank.