An opportunity to buy her great-great-great-grandparents’ Civil War era home beckons Tish to Noble, Alabama, a Southern town in every sense of the word. She wonders if God has given her a new dream—the old house filled with friends, her vintage percolator bubbling on the sideboard.
When Tish discovers that McCombs aren’t welcome in town, she feels like a Yankee behind enemy lines. Only local antiques dealer George Zorbas seems willing to give her a chance. What’s a lonely outcast to do but take in Noble’s resident prodigal, Melanie Hamilton, and hope that the two can find some much needed acceptance in each other.
Problem is, old habits die hard, and Mel is quite set in her destructive ways. With Melanie blocked from going home by her influential father, Tish must try to manage her incorrigible houseguest as she attempts to prove her own worth in a town that seems to have forgotten that every sinner needs God-given mercy, love and forgiveness.
I loved this story even though I'm not a fan of classic cars or antiques, which goes to show that quality writing and character depth trump all else for me. Tish and George are well drawn, likeable characters, but it was Mel that captured me the most.
Tish buys a house previously owned by her great-great-great grandparents and moves to Noble, only to quickly discover that the older residents still harbor hurt and anger over the way her family treated people during Reconstruction days. Tish once told her Mom: "If there's one thing I learned from all our moves, it's that the grass isn't greener on the other side of the fence. It's just another pasture. With its own cow pies."
George, an antiques dealer, had a love-hate relationship with his dog that was so funny! A sweet romance slowly develops between Tish and George, but it's a secondary focus. And classic car fans will love the '70 Chevelle SS 454 that he bought and worked on.
It is Mel around which this story revolves - a prodigal who tries unsuccessfully to return home - and my heart went out to her from the beginning. Mel refers to a poem by Robert Frost: "There's this line that goes, 'Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in,' but for me it's more like 'Home is the place where, if they won't take you in, you know it's not home anymore.'" Met with a wall of rejection instead of open arms from her father - "My dad wants perfection or nothing" - Tish takes Mel in and nurtures her when no one else would. The interaction between Mel, Tish, George, and Mel's brother Stu is one of this novel's strengths.
The spiritual themes of friendship, mercy, second chances, and love are all there, but rather than speaking out about their faith all the time, the characters modeled their faith, and I liked that very much. Gone South exemplifies the "I was a stranger and you invited me in . . ." teaching of Matthew 25.
As part of the uplifting ending, Tish's character makes a beautiful connection between antiques and life. Antiques were "visible reminders of overlapping lives and events. The continuum of generations. No generation would ever stand alone."
Gone South is quality character-driven fiction, and I highly recommend it to all readers.
Learn more about Meg and her novels at megmoseley.com.
This book was provided by Meg Moseley and Multnomah Books in exchange for my honest review.