Caroline Bowman Sawyer, A pearl wearing, well-heeled, loving mother—the image Lizzie has carried with her from the tender age of five when she lost her in a car crash. Now a letter found shatters all Lizzie thought she knew. Her journey to discover the flesh and blood Caroline and the family branch she never met will challenge her notion of family. Does blood require love? When do you fight for family and when do you walk away? Family truths may be hard to face. One thing is for sure, Lizzie’s soul will guide her way.
Family is not always pretty. Sometimes you discover truths about family members that are ugly. How do you process that? How can you reconcile being related to someone you dislike? Lizzie has to face that her grandfather was not a nice man and his home was far from the sweet upbringing she had imagined her mother had. How did such a warm and loving woman come from such a cold and controlling household? I like to think humankind can rise above its circumstances, I think Lizzie's mother Caroline is a testament to that. In order to understand that strength, I knew I could not gloss over the ugly. Personally I found it difficult to write about the topic of racism and for the first time I felt a loathing for a character, even though we only know him posthumously. Another sign that an ugly truth can help you grow.
Do you have pre-conceived Ideas of what a retirement home and its residents are like? I have to admit my experience with such places from childhood painted a bleak picture. Since then my own grandmother and a close family friend have been residents in facilities that seem more resort than nursing. Thank goodness! Serene Oaks is one such posh place and it seemed the ideal place to house a newly discovered flamboyant Aunt for Lizzie. When I close my eyes I can see her suite crammed with french antiques in technicolor. Aunt Beverley is exotic to her peers, having lived most of her adult life abroad. But I'm happy to report that at her core, she is still a spunky southern girl with a big heart.
What would you do if you discovered a family secret in a letter tucked away in a box for years? I knew for Lizzie it would have to turn her beliefs about her mother and that side of the family upside down. Sometimes when we are taken by surprise, our instinct, however futilely, is to try and put the genie back in the bottle, or in Lizzie's case put the egg back together. We can't always choose what happens or what we discover, but we can choose how we react to it. Sometimes it is wise to just sit with something for a while and wait for the emotions to settle before determining the course of action. I'm not sure what I would do if I were in Lizzie's position, luckily I can guide her as the story unfolds.
Lizzie Long Wilson’s story continues. Now she is clearly facing middle age and finds herself caught between a tween-age daughter and aging loved ones. Balancing, work, family and self is more challenging than she expected. Can she still be true to herself, honor her elders and manage her marriage and children? Lizzie tackles these issues with her usual stumbles. Endearing and humorous, the lessons she learns will show her the truths that have always been in her heart.
I have such great memories of relaxed Christmas mornings with my family. As an adult I love the time after all the unwrapping to explore the new books and enjoy the Toblerone from my stocking. I wanted Lizzie's family to have that same kind of Christmas morning, just enjoying being in each other's company. It is all the sweeter over homemade cinnamon rolls. How nice to have three generations together under one roof. I so want Dot to realize what a gift that is, to have the memory of baking the Christmas Rolls with Aunt Dorothy so that someday she can take on the family tradition. After all the real magic in the holidays isn't all the sparkle and trimmings, it is the renewing of family bonds and creating new ones.
One thing Lizzie and I have in common is a love for cooking. There is something so fundamental about preparing food from scratch. When you can do it for people you love it fills your soul as well. As I wrote this passage I could feel the dough beneath my fingers and smell the onions caramelizing for the ragout. I could imagine the family gathering around the table and having the fruits of Lizzie's labor not only fill their bellies, but warm their hearts as well. I have a sudden urge to go bake something!
Lizzie has a reputation for mini disasters and her attempt to check out some plumbing leaves that reputation firmly intact. Myself I'm very independent and quite confident with home repair and home improvement projects. Well, as long as they don't involve electricity. I am excited for Lizzie to move into her childhood home and have the opportunity to renovate it. Southern girls love to remodel and decorate and we also love old houses! You never know what your taking on, Fortunately for Lizzie, one of Bennett's businesses is a construction company. No where can I find a man like that!
One thing every southern girl knows-if you are lost, your inner compass will point you home. For Lizzie Long, home is the beautiful South Carolina Lowcountry, where a close-knit community welcomes her with open arms and nurtures her spirit after her world implodes. As Lizzie tries to hit the reset button and put the pieces of her shattered life back together, the magic of the South Carolina coast and the rekindling of childhood friendships help her open her eyes to both the hard truths and the amazing possibilities ahead. Having gone through much of her life with blinders on, Lizzie slowly begins to rebuild her spirit and her confidence. But will she open her eyes in time to recognize the one man who has always seen her as the strong, intelligent and loving southern girl that she is?
Like Lizzie, I have spent many a Thanksgiving away from immediate family, but have always been taken in by friends. Here in the South Carolina Low country we always have an extra seat at the table. I also knew this would be a great opportunity for Lizzie and Bennet to interact in a setting that would allow them to relax and just have some fun. After all, Lizzie had known Bennett's family since she was in preschool. In true Lizzie style it would not go off without a hitch. But isn't that true of all our family and framily gatherings? I love that Lizzie can see what she missed out on during her first marriage. The possibilities for her future are rosy and that is something to definitely be thankful for.
The moon has always seemed magical to me. Like most small children, I believed it followed me in the car coming home at night when I was somewhere with my parents. My eyes eagerly keeping it in my sight from the back seat. A few years back I was awaiting the closing on the house I live in now and was house sitting for a friend while in transition. The house was right on the water and the last night I stayed there the full moon was in all it's glory. Settled into a gorgeous rice bed, I stared for hours out the window as the moonlight danced on the water. I found myself fancying the moon beckoning me with it's path across the water. Somehow promising the best was yet to come. My character Lizzie is lost on her life path and in desperate need of some direction. Luckily our shared home of the South Carolina lowcountry is the healing elixir that will help her put things right
One of the most valuable relationships we have is that with a friend. Think about it, these are people who are not tied to us by blood and therefore choose us. they accept us and love us without obligation. I have found that my truest friendships are also unaffected by time apart. By the nature of life, work, family and some living in far off places, some friends can not be part of daily life. When I do get precious time with these friends however, happily, the threads are picked up from where we left off. As Lizzie is reconnecting with her friends, it was important to have her sit down with her best friend, M.A. and fill in the blanks of their time apart, so they could move forward. Friendships should be treasured and cultivated. After all, we need to know in our silver haired years, there will be folks who remember us in our younger days. We will need friends to share our lives with no matter how old we get.”
Lizzie is a beautiful and talented southern girl. She has gracious manners and impeccable taste. She also has a knack for embarrassing incidents, usually involving herself getting wet or covered in something. I can relate. I am not as clumsy as Lizzie, but I have had my fair share of embarrassing moments in front of people I would have much rather come off as smooth and graceful. I once knocked myself to the ground, walking into a pole after kissing my college sweetheart goodbye and he ended up having to administer first aid. When it comes to Bennett, Lizzie's childhood sweetheart, she is constantly feeling like a fool instead of a confident successful woman. Lucky for her, the people who love her are used to her little accidents, pitch in to clean things up and see Lizzie not just with their eyes, but with their hearts.
Addie is finally ready to leave her carefree life as a bartender behind much to her mother's relief and she takes a job as social director at an independent living facility in the lowcountry of South Carolina although. not exactly up to par with her MBA. Her mother laments Addie's chances of finding an eligible husband if she is with senior citizens all day. Addie quickly develops relationships with the charming and eccentric residents. She soon discovers her boss maybe working for the mob and she becomes involved with a handsome detective. Addie struggles to define herself as a modern southern woman her mother can be proud of and along the way receives pearls of wisdom from her newfound friends and the matriarchs of her family. From outings to the gun range and miniature golf with the cast of characters, to assisting law enforcement and falling for Detective Jack Doyle along the way Addie will have you cheering her on.
The idea for the setting of this book came from time I spent at an independent living facility with a dear older friend, Mrs. Doyle, really more of a second mother to me. Whenever I visited, I found myself imagining the backstory of the various residents I would see in the lobby or the corridors. Sometimes I would go to the dining room with Mrs. Doyle and would listen to many fascinating stories from her co-residents. If you take the time you will hear the drama, romance and adventure in everyday lives. So I knew Addie would need three specific residents to bond with. This is her first encounter with them and immediately she is drawn to them. I hope you are too, they are three remarkable ladies well worth getting to know.
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