Book Review

by Deborah Smith

Genre: Mainstream, General Mainstream Fiction

2002 Best Women's Fiction Nominee

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A princess trapped in a pink marble castle is a fairly accurate description of
Darl Union's life. Raised by her maternal grandmother, the formidable Swan
Hardigree, Darl's been isolated from the entire North Carolina town of Burnt
Stand. The Hardigree Marble Company is the town's main employer and generations
of Hardigree women have basically built the town.

Some of seven-year-old Darl's loneliness is relieved when young Eli Wade and his
family come to Burnt Stand. Eli's father is a master stonecutter, but Eli's gifts
lie in another direction. A math genius, Eli plans to make something of himself
and rescue his family from poverty. The emotional connection between Darl and Eli
is strong. Unfortunately, long-buried family secrets are bubbling to the surface
and threaten to destroy yet another generation of Wades and Hardigrees. The
return of Great Aunt Clara Hardigree opens old wounds and the repercussions will
force Eli and his family to leave Burnt Stand.

Now more than two decades after Clara's "disappearance," Eli and Darl
will be brought together once again, forcing Darl to face her deepest fears
and darkest guilt.

Great authors have a special way of completely capturing the essence of their
characters and the inspiring elements of their stories. Deborah Smith ranks as
one of THE best writers of dark, romantic and emotional family dramas. Her
southern gothic novels are filled to the brim with wonderful characters, complex
and rich emotions, tragedy and hope. (Feb., 352 pp., $23.95)

Reviewed By: Jill M. Smith

Publisher: Little, Brown

Published: February 2002

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