Slightly South of Simple, Kristy Woodson Harvey: Book Review

Slightly South of Simple Book Cover Slightly South of Simple
Peachtree Bluff
Kristy Woodson Harvey
Adult Fiction
Gallery Books
April 25, 2017

Caroline Murphy swore she’d never set foot back in the small Southern town of Peachtree Bluff; she was a New York girl born and bred and the worst day of her life was when, in the wake of her father’s death, her mother selfishly forced her to move—during her senior year of high school, no less—back to that hick-infested rat trap where she'd spent her childhood summers. But now that her marriage to a New York high society heir has fallen apart in a very public, very embarrassing fashion, a pregnant Caroline decides to escape the gossipmongers with her nine-year-old daughter and head home to her mother, Ansley.

Ansley has always put her three daughters first, especially when she found out that her late husband, despite what he had always promised, left her with next to nothing. Now the proud owner of a charming waterfront design business and finally standing on her own two feet, Ansley welcomes Caroline and her brood back with open arms. But when her second daughter Sloane, whose military husband is overseas, and youngest daughter and successful actress Emerson join the fray, Ansley begins to feel like the piece of herself she had finally found might be slipping from her grasp. Even more discomfiting, when someone from her past reappears in Ansley's life, the secret she’s harbored from her daughters their entire lives might finally be forced into the open.

Exploring the powerful bonds between sisters and mothers and daughters, this engaging novel is filled with Southern charm, emotional drama, and plenty of heart.

This review contains quotes from the book.

It’s official: I’m naming Kristy Woodson Harvey the new queen bee of Southern fiction. In her most recent novel, Slightly South of Simple, Harvey introduces us to the Murphy women with so much ease that it sort of feels like I’ve known them my whole life.

The first character we meet is Caroline Murphy, who we learn is grappling with the fact that her husband, James, is in love with a 20-year-old model. Which isn’t a great revelation considering Caroline is also six-months pregnant. From the start, it’s clear to discern that Caroline’s husband is obviously the worst kind of man. Knowing this, she resorts to moving back to Peachtree Bluff, the very place she’s always despised.

Before, Caroline and her family would go to Peachtree Bluff every summer from New York City, and when her father died her mother moved the family there permanently. Caroline always believed that she was a New Yorker through and through, but now with all the gossip surrounding her marriage, she comes to the conclusion that her only option is to move back home with her 9-year-old daughter. She also knows that the people who will help her through this difficult time most are her sisters.

“But there are no people in the world to make you realize what a spoiled, selfish bitch you’ve become and put you right back in your place quite like sisters. All I can say is that for the state I was in, thank God I have two.”

— excerpt from Kristy Woodson Harvey’s Slightly South of Simple

Through this relocation and intro to new family members, Harvey goes into a lot of detail about Caroline, Sloane and Emerson’s mother, Ansley Murphy. Ansley, too, is dealing with her own burdens, left to carry on after the passing of her husband by running a design business. She’s always assumed that she would be left with a lot of money if her husband ever passed because of his life insurance, but after he died, she discovered she would not receive anything.

In response, Ansley decides to take matters into her own hands, although her life and work do not come as easy as she’d hoped. It also doesn’t help that her relationship with Caroline is floundering. Caroline would always nitpick at whatever her mother did or decided for the family. This sort of relationship shows a classic mother-daughter struggle I’m sure many can relate to—judging what the other does with their life because they don’t see eye-to-eye being one of their contentions.

“And Caroline has never been my favorite child. I know that’s not nice to say, but it’s nicer than saying she’s my least favorite child, which is really the truth. I love her to pieces. I’d take a bullet for her. I’d sooner die than see something bad happen to her, and I would never, ever want to live without her. But she is…tricky.”

— excerpt from Kristy Woodson Harvey’s Slightly South of Simple

In all, I really liked how Harvey works to give each of her characters a different set of personalities in Slightly South of Simple. It made the novel so much more interesting because I got a sense of who each and every one of these people was, even the minor characters. Harvey’s book was also nice to read because of how smooth the plot line is, which is why I would recommend this to anyone who needs a light read and loves Southern fiction.

If you ask me, Harvey just made herself known in Southern fiction with this one and I cannot wait to read the rest of the series!

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Jessica Duffield
the authorJessica Duffield
Contributing Writer
I am a sophomore in college. Books are my passion and I hope to work in book publishing once I graduate.