As I read this book, my first by Siddons, I kept thinking how I would scribble my thoughts about the book. At first, the book was okay and nicely written. Kind of hummmm.
But then Siddons evidently was working her magic prose and pulled me in. I was eager to finish tasks so I could grab a few extra minutes and pick the book up. Her character development is extraordinary. Her descriptions are realistic. Her vocabulary usage is smile-worthy; she's not a typical Southern fiction writer like Mary Alice Monroe (who I have enjoyed in the past but writes in an easy-to-read simplistic vocabulary). I like that fact that Siddons used vocabulary sometimes unfamiliar, sometimes unknown to me, and did so frequently. That alone moved my rating from three to four stars. She writes to include the reader as one of the group. You really do feel like you are that silent invisible other in the group.
But the thing that changed the "Hmmm" to "Oh. My." happened in the last twenty pages of the book. I did not see that coming.
I don't have any more Siddons' books and with the number of others I have already to read, I don't plan to get any any time soon, but I will. She just may rise to the top of my beach-read list for next year.
How did I find Siddons? Her name was unfamiliar to me until I read Pat Conroy's My Reading Life. He sings her praises, and if he does, then I must read her. (I am adding his suggestions to my already too-long list.) Funny though, many don't consider Islands to be her best work. I'm glad it was my first and am eager for the best one. This was an enjoyable Southern beach fiction read. I hesitate to classify it as "brain candy" like I would a Mary Alice Monroe, but maybe more like an exquisitely decorated petit four or a fine meringue.
Oh, and have some tissues handy. Some things are very touching and heartfelt. There is loss and sadness.